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Early postpartum opioids linked with persistent usage

by Dec. 13, 2018, 10:15 AM

Vanderbilt researchers have published findings indicating that regardless of whether a woman delivers a child by cesarean section or by vaginal birth, if they fill prescriptions for opioid pain medications early in the postpartum period, they are at increased risk of developing persistent opioid use.

In a research letter published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the authors examined the data of 102,541 women who gave birth while covered by Tennessee Medicaid (TennCare) to analyze their use of opioid pain relievers during the postpartum period. The study population was opioid naïve, meaning they had not used opioids in the 180 days before the delivery.

“Studying postpartum women gives us an excellent opportunity to compare two demographically similar populations of women with a common experience of childbirth, one discharged with opioid prescriptions routinely (cesarean birth), and one not discharged with opioid prescriptions routinely (vaginal birth),” said Sarah Osmundson, MD, assistant professor of Maternal-Fetal Medicine in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the study’s lead author.

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