A Moral or Medical Problem? The Relationship between Legal Penalties and Treatment Practices for Opioid Use Disorders in Pregnant Women

Cara Angelotta*, Carol J. Weiss, John W. Angelotta, Richard A. Friedman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objective The relationship between use of medication-assisted treatment (MAT) in pregnant women with opioid use disorders, the standard of care, and state laws that permit child abuse charges for illicit drug use during pregnancy has not been described. Methods Using publicly available data on substance abuse treatment in the United States, we describe patterns in the use of MAT for pregnant women with opioid use disorders in states with prenatal child abuse laws compared with states without such laws. A binary logistic regression analysis was conducted to predict the presence or absence of MAT in the treatment plan of pregnant women using the following independent variables: state prenatal child abuse law, referral source, geographical region, and Medicaid coverage of methadone. Results In 2012, there were 8,292 treatment episodes of pregnant women with a primary opioid use disorder in the United States for which data on MAT use were available. Among states with laws that permit child abuse charges for illicit drug use in pregnancy (18 states), MAT was used in 33.15% of treatment admissions compared with 51.33% of admissions in states without a law. The following levels of the independent variables have a greater effect on the lack of use of MAT in descending order of importance: criminal justice referral, other community referral, Southern region, Medicaid coverage, drug abuse care provider referral, unknown referral, other health care provider referral, and presence of state law that permits child abuse charges. Conclusion Referral source, geographic region, Medicaid funding, and prenatal child abuse laws were associated with significantly lower rates of use of MAT.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)595-601
Number of pages7
JournalWomen's Health Issues
Volume26
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Maternity and Midwifery

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