Opioid Addiction in Pregnancy: Does Depression Negatively Impact Adherence With Prenatal Care?

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We aimed to evaluate whether depression in pregnancy in women with opioid dependency negatively impacts adherence with prenatal care.


This was a retrospective chart analysis of opioid-dependent pregnant women over a 6-year period at 2 large referral and tertiary care centers. The primary outcome was adherence with prenatal care based on the concurrent diagnosis of depression. Adherence was assessed by looking at the number of observed versus expected prenatal visits. Secondary outcomes included neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) stay, and incidence and severity of neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS).


A total of 74 patient charts were reviewed. 45/74 (60.8%) of the opioid-dependent pregnant patients were either diagnosed with depression (n = 41), anxiety (n = 2), or scored >10 on the Edinburgh Prenatal Depression Scale (n = 1). Patients with a diagnosis of depression were significantly less adherent with prenatal care; 80% adherent (73% vs 93%; P = 0.03), 90% adherent (62% vs 93%; P = 0.003). A higher number of patients in the depression group had an infant treated for withdrawal (62% vs 38%; P = 0.041), and had longer NICU stays (27% vs 21%; P = 0.018). Analysis of the whole cohort of opioid dependent gravidas revealed Buprenorphine maintenance therapy had the lowest mean NAS score 6.5 ± 4.4, compared with methadone maintenance 10.6 ± 3.6, and no maintenance therapy 9.4 ± 4.0 (P = 0.008).


Depression negatively impacts adherence with prenatal care and was significantly associated with a higher incidence of neonatal withdrawal and longer NICU stays. Buprenorphine therapy had the lowest incidence and severity of NAS when compared with methadone and no maintenance therapy.

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