Biden administration to expand use of medication to treat addiction in pregnant women
President Biden will move to expand the use of medication to treat addiction in pregnant women through a new initiative as part of the administration’s strategy to improve maternal health.
The initiative will develop training and technical assistance about medications for opioid addiction treatment, like buprenorphine and methadone, for women who are part of government programs through the Department of Justice and the Department of Health and Human Services. It also will offer opioid addition education to women’s health providers through the Department of Veterans Affairs.
“Medications to treat opioid use disorder improve birth outcomes, making it less likely newborns will be born too early. Medications to treat opioid use disorder prevent and reduce the risk of maternal overdose and death,” stated a fact sheet released by the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy.
Additionally, the initiative will expand access to medications for opioid addiction for pregnant women and women of reproductive age within Tribal nations and living in Tribal communities, particularly in urban areas.
The initiative is based off a report conducted by the administration to improve maternal health, which medical professionals, early childhood experts, and others contributed to. The use of opioids among pregnant women is considered a significant public health concern by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The number of women with opioid-related diagnoses documented at delivery increased by 131 percent from 2010 to 2017, and 7 percent of women said they used opioids during pregnancy in 2019.
Opioid use during pregnancy can lead to preterm birth, stillbirth and maternal mortality, among other negative health outcomes, according to the CDC.
While using medications to treat an opioid addiction during pregnancy could cause newborn drug withdrawal, it will decrease the chances an infant will be born too early, according to the fact sheet. Meanwhile, newborn drug withdrawal could be resolved within the first few weeks of life.