Medicaid covers medical expenses for 45 percent of births in the United States.
In 2007, there was an estimated 1.1 million pregnant women on Medicaid. That means there were around 250,000 babies exposed to opioids in one form or another that year and sadly the trend continues to grow. The reasons for prescribing opioids to pregnant women may have to do with back pain, but the research does not point to that with certainty.
“To hear that there’s such a high use of narcotics in pregnancy when I see so many women who worry about a cup of coffee seems incongruous,” Dr. Joshua A. Copel, a professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at the Yale School of Medicine, told The New York Times.
There were regional differences in opioid prescribing to pregnant women found in the research. Among pregnant women on Medicaid who received opioids:
- Utah (41.6 percent)
- Idaho (35.6 percent)
- New York (9.6 percent)
- Oregon (9.5 percent)
The study was published in Obstetrics & Gynecology.