Predictors of treatment retention in postpartum women prescribed buprenorphine during pregnancy

J Subst Abuse Treat. 2018 Mar;86:26-29. doi: 10.1016/j.jsat.2017.12.001. Epub 2017 Dec 8.


Aim: To determine variables related to treatment retention in women six and twelve months postpartum that were in medication treatment using buprenorphine during pregnancy.

Methods: This retrospective cohort study of 190 maternal-infant dyads exposed to buprenorphine during pregnancy examines rates of treatment retention at six and twelve months postpartum and also analyzes a variety of potential predictors of treatment retention including illicit drug use in the third trimester, delayed entry into medication treatment and co-occurring mental health diagnoses requiring prescription medication.

Results: At 12months postpartum, women appeared more likely to remain in medication treatment if they entered treatment early in pregnancy (defined as either being in treatment at the time of conception, p=0.001, or entering medication treatment prior to 13weeks gestation, p=0.037). Being prescribed an antidepressant medication during the third trimester was also associated with enhanced treatment retention at six months postpartum (p=0.005). At both six and twelve months postpartum, the use of illicit drugs (including opioids, cocaine and benzodiazepines) during the third trimester was negatively correlated with treatment retention (p=0.012 and p<0.001, respectively).

Conclusions: Early access to medication treatment is associated with treatment retention in women prescribed buprenorphine during pregnancy. This has important public health implications as access to treatment is limited in many parts of the country and many women are only able to obtain treatment after becoming pregnant. Being prescribed an antidepressant medication during pregnancy may enhance treatment retention, supporting the work of previous authors.

Keywords: Buprenorphine; Opioid use disorders; Pregnancy; Treatment retention.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Buprenorphine / therapeutic use*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Narcotic Antagonists / therapeutic use*
  • Opioid-Related Disorders / rehabilitation*
  • Patient Compliance*
  • Perinatal Care*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / rehabilitation*
  • Retrospective Studies


  • Narcotic Antagonists
  • Buprenorphine