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Opioid Crisis Hitting More Pregnant and Postpartum Women

Alison Gemmill

A study of pregnancy-associated deaths reveals that the opioid crisis in the United States appears to be gravely affecting more pregnant and postpartum women.

Alison Gemmill
Alison Gemmill, Ph.D., M.P.H., Assistant Professor, Department of Family, Population and Preventive Medicine, Core Faculty Member, Program in Public Health

Examining pregnancy-associated deaths of women from 2007 to 2016, researchers found that mortality involving opioids either during pregnancy or up to one year post-pregnancy more than doubled during that time. The study, the first of its kind, is published online in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

According to lead author Alison Gemmill, PhD, MPH, Assistant Professor in the Department of Family, Population and Preventive Medicine and the Program in Public Health at Stony Brook University, the findings are similar to trends in opioid-related mortality in the general population.

 The researchers – who used data from 22 states and the District of Columbia — discovered that the increase in opioid-associated deaths was more pronounced in white women compared to non-Hispanic black women, despite black women’s higher risk of pregnancy-associated mortality due to any cause. The data also suggest that the rise over the 10-year period was driven by increases in deaths due to heroin or synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl.

 Gemmill and colleagues say that more interventions are urgently needed to reverse these concerning trends.


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