By Cara Murez 

HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, April 5, 2023 (HealthDay Information) — New moms who gave beginning early within the pandemic stuffed much more opioid prescriptions than American girls did beforehand, elevating considerations concerning the potential for narcotic misuse.

About 38% of greater than 460,000 girls who gave beginning from July 2018 by means of December 2020 have been prescribed opioids for postpartum ache administration, in accordance with the College of Georgia research.

However there was an almost 3 share level enhance 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 have been prescribed have been additionally greater power, the researchers famous.

“Loads of girls obtain opioids for therapy of ache in the course of 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,” stated Emily Lawler, co-author of the research and an assistant professor within the Faculty of Public and Worldwide Affairs.

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

The findings have been particularly regarding as a result of opioid overdose deaths elevated in the course of the pandemic, surpassing 100,000 deaths yearly, the research authors stated.

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

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

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

“Previous to the pandemic, opioid prescriptions have been lowering not solely by way of the variety of girls prescribed opioids but additionally the power of the opioids being prescribed and the variety of days lined by every prescription,” stated Shelby Steuart, lead creator of the research and a doctoral candidate within the Faculty 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 have been writing extra opioid prescriptions or if extra girls have been simply taking their prescriptions to the pharmacy and filling them, however it’s regarding.”

Physicians could have fearful they wouldn’t see their sufferers as often in the course of the pandemic, the research crew recommended, due to COVID-19 surges and lockdowns. They might have been making an attempt to compensate for that, the researchers stated. 

Nervousness from the pandemic might also have exacerbated girls’s emotions of ache, inflicting them to fill these prescriptions.

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

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

Extra info

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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