NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Findings published by Vanderbilt researchers have indicated that women who fill prescriptions for opioid pain medications in the early postpartum period are more at risk of developing persistent opioid use.
The research was outlined in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and was based off the data gathered from 102,541 women who gave birth while covered by Tennessee Medicaid. The intent of this research was to analyze the mothers' use of opioids after birth, whether the child was delivered by cesarean section or by vaginal birth.
The women used in the study were opioid naive, meaning they did not use opioids in the 180 days before they gave birth.
The study found that of the mothers included, 89 percent who had a c-section and 53 percent of those had a vaginal birth filled their opioid prescription during the postpartum period. Overall, the persistence of use after this period was low in the mothers but not non-existent.
“ This study is one of the firsts to indicate that regardless of the delivery type, postpartum initiation of opioid use — a modifiable practice — is associated with persistent opioid use,” said the study's senior author Dr. Carlos Grijalva, associate professor of Health Policy at Vanderbilt. “If our estimates were projected to the number of women who give birth annually in the United States, we calculated that every year there would be around 21,000 women becoming chronic opioid users that would be attributable to opioid use in the postpartum period.”