Objective: To describe the characteristics, treatment, and outcomes of pregnant women with opioid use disorder.
Methods: Women attending an obstetric and addiction recovery clinic in Boston from 2015 to 2016 were enrolled in a prospective cohort study and followed through delivery (N=113). Buprenorphine or methadone was initiated clinically. The Addiction Severity Index was administered at enrollment. Prenatal and delivery data were systematically abstracted from medical charts.
Results: Most women in the cohort were non-Hispanic white (80.5%) with a mean age of 28 years. Few women were married (8.9%). More than half of the cohort had been incarcerated, 29.2% had current legal involvement, and 15.0% generally had unstable housing. A majority (70.8%) were infected with hepatitis C and histories of sexual (56.6%) and physical (65.5%) abuse were prevalent. Regular substance used included heroin (92.0%), injection heroin (83.2%), other opioids (69.0%), marijuana (73.5%), alcohol (56.6%), and cocaine (62.8%). Fifty-nine women (52.2%) were treated initially with prenatal buprenorphine and 54 (47.8%) with methadone; 49.6% also were taking concomitant psychotropic medications. Employment (0.766±0.289) and psychologic (0.375±0.187) Addiction Severity Index scores were the highest, indicating the most severe problems in these areas. Opioid use relapse did not differ by treatment (44.7% overall). Thirteen (22.5%) of 59 women treated with buprenorphine transitioned to methadone mainly because of positive opioid screens. Overall, 23.0% (n=26) of the cohort discontinued clinical care. The number of pregnancy losses was small (three therapeutic abortions, four miscarriages, one stillbirth), with an overall live birth rate of 90.8% (95% CI 82.7-95.9).
Conclusion: These data on the social circumstances, substance use, treatment, and treatment outcomes of pregnant women with opioid use disorder may help clinicians to understand and treat this clinically complex population.