Improving Access to Care for Pregnant & Postpartum People With Opioid Use Disorder: Recommendations for Policymakers

In recent years, opioid-related overdoses have become a leading cause of death associated with pregnancy and the postpartum period, with mortality rates rising more than 80% between 2017 and 2020. This increase exacerbates a mounting maternal mortality and morbidity crisis and underscores the critical need to improve access to care for pregnant and postpartum people with OUD.  Left untreated, OUD during pregnancy can have severe medical and social consequences. It can destabilize a pregnancy and contribute to adverse outcomes such as low birth weight, preterm labor, and fetal distress and demise.  It can also increase the likelihood of newborns being separated from their families at birth, raising the risk of trauma to the mother and harms to the newborn.

Over the past several years, the American Medical Association (AMA) and Manatt Health have partnered on recommendations that inform policymakers of best practices to eliminate barriers to care for opioid use disorder (OUD) through a national policy road map in December 2020; a comprehensive state toolkit expanding on the roadmap recommendations; and a compilation of profiles featuring leading physicians, policymakers and advocates who have implemented many of the recommendations. In light of the sharp increase in pregnancy and postpartum deaths linked to OUD,  the AMA and Manatt have developed a set of recommendations for state policymakers to improve access to care for pregnant and postpartum people with OUD with several strategies focused on improving care for justice-involved pregnant and postpartum individuals.

In this new report, the AMA offers several recommendations to advance policies in support of evidence-based care for pregnant people with OUD to improve outcomes for the pregnant individual, newborn and family.

To read the full white paper, visit here.



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