Management and monitoring of opioid use in pregnancy

Nete Lundager Klokker Rausgaard*, Inge Olga Ibsen, Jan Stener Jørgensen, Ronald Francis Lamont, Pernille Ravn

*Corresponding author for this work

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Opioid use during pregnancy has serious consequences for mother and baby. The true extent of the problem is unknown and there is a need for better screening. Existing guidelines with respect to the management of pregnant women with opioid use are based on limited evidence. To improve recommendations for optimal identification, management, and treatment, publications on opioids in pregnancy were reviewed. Published literature from 2007 to 2017 was searched in PubMed, Cochrane and Embase databases. The review employed 60 publications from 210 studies identified, that were of varying quality and included randomized controlled trials, systematic reviews, meta-analyses, and Cochrane reviews. The prevalence of opioid use in pregnancy is underestimated. Screening by urine testing and self-reporting is acceptable to identify fetal exposure. To minimize risk, opioid agonist pharmacotherapy should replace the continued use of opioids or detoxification. Current guidelines recommend methadone and buprenorphine equally. However, recent studies indicate that buprenorphine has advantages over methadone. Accordingly, we suggest buprenorphine as first-line therapy. Future studies should elaborate on better objective screening methods to prevent the consequences of fetomaternal opioid exposure.

Original languageEnglish
JournalActa Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)7-15
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2020


  • Buprenorphine
  • methadone
  • neonatal abstinence syndrome
  • opioid
  • opioid abuse
  • opioid use disorder
  • pregnancy
  • substance abuse

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