Research will explore state policies governing opioid use and pregnancy

Opioid use disorders during pregnancy have risen at alarming rates in the U.S. in recent years, increasing the risks of preterm labor and delivery, poor fetal growth, prolonged hospital stays, maternal death and stillborn infants. Maternal opioid use can also result in neonatal abstinence syndrome, an opioid withdrawal condition in infants.

Despite all the risks, opioid-prescribing practices and rates of opioid use in pregnancy vary substantially between states, suggesting state policies may be affecting these outcomes.

A Penn State College of Medicine researcher and his team will receive almost $1.2 million over three years from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to examine the effects of these policies on pregnant women with opioid use disorder (OUD) and their infants.

According to project principal investigator Douglas Leslie, PhD, director of the Center for Applied Studies in Health Economics and professor of public health sciences and psychiatry at the College of Medicine, state responses regarding treatment of OUD in pregnancy vary widely, yet evidenced-based data about what specific public health strategies result in the best outcomes for these mothers and their infants are limited.

Dr. Leslie, also an affiliate faculty member of Penn State’s Consortium to Combat Substance Abuse and Clinical and Translational Research Institute, will examine the effects and costs of state policies governing the treatment of pregnant women with OUD.

Learn more about Dr. Leslie’s work in this Penn State News story.

If you're having trouble accessing this content, or would like it in another format, please email the Penn State College of Medicine web department.