NIH study suggests opioid use linked to pregnancy loss, lower chance of conception

August 18, 2020

Opioid use among women trying to conceive may be associated with a lower chance of pregnancy, suggests a National Institutes of Health study. Moreover, opioid use in early pregnancy may be associated with a greater chance of pregnancy loss. The study appears in Epidemiology.

"Our findings indicate that women who are pregnant or planning a pregnancy should, along with their physicians, consider the potential effects opioids may have on their ability to conceive or sustain a pregnancy," said Kerry Flannagan, Ph.D., the primary author of the study and a postdoctoral researcher in the Division of Intramural Population Health Research at NIH's Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

According to the authors, much of the research on prescription opioid use has focused on the effects of drug dependency. Little information exists on non-habitual, periodic opioid use around the time of conception and early in pregnancy.

The researchers analyzed data from the Effects of Aspirin in Gestation and Reproduction (EAGeR) trial, which investigated low-dose aspirin as a treatment to prevent pregnancy loss. Participants were women from 18 to 40 years old with a history of one or two pregnancy losses. Women were followed for six monthly cycles if they did not get pregnant and throughout pregnancy if they did. The women provided urine samples, which were analyzed for various prescription opioids.

Of the 1,228 women in the study, 226 (18%) had used opioids while trying to conceive and 33 (5%) of 685 women who became pregnant had used opioids in early pregnancy. None tested positive for methadone or buprenorphine, typically used to treat opioid dependence.

Opioid use before conception was associated with a 29% lower chance of achieving pregnancy during a given monthly cycle, compared to women who had not used opioids. Among the women who became pregnant, those who used opioids around the time of conception were 1.5 times as likely to have a miscarriage as women who had not. Women who used opioids in the first four weeks of pregnancy were more than twice as likely to have a miscarriage. Women who used opioids in weeks four through eight of pregnancy were 2.5 times as likely to have a miscarriage.

The authors called for additional research on how opioid use affects fertility and early pregnancy. They added that until more is known, patients and physicians should evaluate the potential risks and benefits of opioids for pain management among women who are pregnant or may become pregnant, including those undergoing assisted reproduction procedures that may involve opioid treatment to manage pain.
-end-
Reference

Flannagan, KS et al. Is opioid use safe in women trying to conceive? Epidemiology. 2020.

About the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD): NICHD leads research and training to understand human development, improve reproductive health, enhance the lives of children and adolescents, and optimize abilities for all. For more information, visit https://www.nichd.nih.gov.

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit https://www.nih.gov.

NIH/Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

Related Pregnancy Articles from Brightsurf:

COVID-19 has a prolonged effect for many during pregnancy
Symptoms for pregnant women with COVID-19 can be prolonged, lasting two months or longer for a quarter of the women who participated in a national study led by UC San Francisco and UCLA.

Relaxed through pregnancy
A group of researchers from Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin have been able to show that maternal psychological wellbeing during pregnancy has a positive effect on newborn infants.

Trajectories of antidepressant medication use during pregnancy
In an analysis of women who started pregnancy when taking antidepressant medications, investigators identified three trajectories of antidepressant dispensing during pregnancy: more than half stopped their treatment, a quarter maintained their treatment throughout pregnancy, and one-fifth discontinued it for a minimum of three months and then resumed it during the postpartum period.

Are women using e-cigarettes during preconception and/or pregnancy?
A new study of 1,365 racially/ethnically diverse, low-income pregnant women found that 4% reported e-cigarette use.

A better pregnancy test for whales
To determine whale pregnancy, researchers have relied on visual cues or hormone tests of blubber collected via darts, but the results were often inconclusive.

Cannabis use during pregnancy
The large health care system Kaiser Permanente Northern California provides universal screening for prenatal cannabis use in women during pregnancy by self-report and urine toxicology testing.

Questions and answers about cannabis use during pregnancy
A new study shows that women have many medical questions about the use of cannabis both before and during pregnancy, and during the postpartum period while breastfeeding.

The effect of taking antidepressants during pregnancy
Exposure to antidepressants during pregnancy and the first weeks of life can alter sensory processing well into adulthood, according to research in mice recently published in eNeuro.

Is ivermectin safe during pregnancy?
Is it safe to give ivermectin to pregnant women? To answer this question, researchers from the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal), an institution supported by 'la Caixa,' conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of studies that reported cases of accidental exposure to the drug among pregnant women.

Going to sleep on your back in late pregnancy
This study looked at whether going to sleep on your back in the third trimester of pregnancy was associated with average lower birth weights.

Read More: Pregnancy News and Pregnancy Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.