Painkiller prescription rates rise for pregnant women

Doctors are increasingly prescribing opioids for pregnant women covered by Medicaid and commercial insurance, The New York Times reported. Of 1.1 million pregnant women enrolled in Medicaid nationally, nearly 23 percent filled an opioid prescription in 2007, an 18.5 percent spike since 2000. And a study of 500,000 privately insured women found 14 percent filled opioid prescriptions at least once during pregnancy. The most-frequently prescribed drugs were codeine, hydrocodone and oxycodone. While women usually took the drugs for a week or less, just more than 2 percent took them for extended periods. Infants are experiencing drug withdrawal as a result, according to Syracuse.com, which noted doctors may be forgetting to ask women if they're pregnant or could be pregnant before prescribing narcotics. Results of these studies highlight not only quality of care issues but the onset of new, addiction-related healthcare costs.

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