By Cara Murez 

HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, April 5, 2023 (HealthDay Information) — New moms who gave start early within the pandemic stuffed way more opioid prescriptions than American girls did beforehand, elevating issues in regards to the potential for narcotic misuse.

About 38% of greater than 460,000 girls who gave start from July 2018 via December 2020 had been prescribed opioids for postpartum ache administration, in keeping with the College of Georgia research.

However there was a virtually 3 proportion level improve within the variety of opioid prescriptions stuffed after March 2020 — when a nationwide emergency was declared in the US — than earlier than the well being disaster started.

The opioids these moms had been prescribed had been additionally increased energy, the researchers famous.

“Plenty of girls obtain opioids for remedy of ache throughout the postpartum interval, however they’re a very weak group as a result of a lot of them haven’t used opioid medicines earlier than,” mentioned Emily Lawler, co-author of the research and an assistant professor within the College of Public and Worldwide Affairs.

“That makes them excessive danger for potential opioid abuse,” Lawler mentioned in a college information launch.

The findings had been particularly regarding as a result of opioid overdose deaths elevated throughout the pandemic, surpassing 100,000 deaths yearly, the research authors mentioned.

Opioids are usually a final resort for ache administration after being pregnant.

The American School of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends well being care suppliers use an method for postpartum ache that begins with a fundamental ache reliever like ibuprofen (resembling Motrin or Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol). If that doesn’t alleviate the ache, physicians are suggested to then transfer to a low-strength opioid, resembling codeine or tramadol.

Sufferers prescribed opioids shouldn’t take them for prolonged durations and ought to be switched to over-the-counter ache medicines as quickly as doable, ACOG recommends.

“Previous to the pandemic, opioid prescriptions had been lowering not solely by way of the variety of girls prescribed opioids but in addition the energy of the opioids being prescribed and the variety of days coated by every prescription,” mentioned Shelby Steuart, lead creator of the research and a doctoral candidate within the College of Public and Worldwide Affairs.

“However proper after the COVID-19 lockdowns occurred in March 2020, we noticed a pointy spike in opioid prescription fills,” she continued. “We don’t know whether or not physicians had been writing extra opioid prescriptions or if extra girls had been simply taking their prescriptions to the pharmacy and filling them, however it’s regarding.”

Physicians could have apprehensive they wouldn’t see their sufferers as steadily throughout the pandemic, the research workforce steered, due to COVID-19 surges and lockdowns. They could have been trying to compensate for that, the researchers mentioned. 

Anxiousness from the pandemic may additionally have exacerbated girls’s emotions of ache, inflicting them to fill these prescriptions.

“It’s actually essential for this inhabitants to be in continued contact with well being care suppliers as a result of they’re at excessive danger of power ache,” Lawler mentioned. “You will need to appropriately handle ache, however postpartum girls who do develop opioid use dysfunction are a lot tougher to hook up with remedy. And we must be conscious that there’s potential for this group to turn into hooked on opioids, and we must be looking out to attach them to remedy if wanted.”

The research findings had been printed on-line April 3 in JAMA Community Open.

Extra data

The U.S. Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention has extra on opioids.


SOURCE: College of Georgia, information launch, April 3, 2023

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