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July 12, 2019

Protecting Pregnant Women With Substance Use Disorders and Their Neonates Participating in Research

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Pediatrics, The Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts
  • 2Tufts Clinical and Translational Science Institute, Tufts University, Boston, Massachusetts
  • 3Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, US Food and Drug Administration, Silver Spring, Maryland
  • 4Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts
JAMA. 2019;322(7):609-610. doi:10.1001/jama.2019.9002

The current opioid epidemic has particular importance for pregnant women with opioid use disorder (OUD). Heroin addiction, use and misuse of prescription opioids for treatment of pain, and medication-assisted treatment are all increasing.1 Between 1999 and 2014, the number of pregnant women using opioids in the United States increased significantly from 1.5 to 6.5 per 1000 deliveries.2 In utero opioid exposure can cause neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS), a disorder characterized by central nervous system and autonomic nervous system dysfunction. Despite the increasing frequency of NAS, key knowledge gaps exist including uncertainty about whether, when, and how to treat these neonates, how to wean medications, and the optimal agent(s) to use.1 The short- and long-term efficacy and safety of various maternal and neonatal treatments are unknown, and additional research is needed.

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