A new study finds overdose deaths surged among pregnant or postpartum people between 2018 and 2021, STAT reports.
Researchers from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the National Institutes of Health compared maternal deaths for overdose of commonly intentionally misused psychotropic substances including heroin and other opioids or cocaine. Overdose deaths more than tripled among those aged 35 to 44 during the study period, from 4.9 deaths per 100,000 mothers aged 35 to 44 with a live birth in 2018 to 15.8 in 2021, they reported in JAMA Psychiatry.
“The stigma and punitive policies that burden pregnant women with substance use disorder increase overdose risk by making it harder to access life-saving treatment and resources,” Nora Volkow, M.D., NIDA Director and senior author on the study, said in a news release. “Reducing barriers and the stigma that surrounds addiction can open the door for pregnant individuals to seek and receive evidence-based treatment and social support to sustain their health as well as their child’s health.”