Maternal opioid use disorder and infant mortality in Wisconsin, United States, 2010–2018

David C. Mallinson, Hsiang Hui Daphne Kuo, Russell S. Kirby, Yi Wang, Lawrence M. Berger, Deborah B. Ehrenthal

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Objective: The difference in infant health outcomes by maternal opioid use disorder (OUD) status is understudied. We measured the association between maternal OUD during pregnancy and infant mortality and investigated whether this association differs by infant neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome (NOWS) or maternal receipt of medication for OUD (MOUD) during pregnancy. Methods: We sampled 204,543 Medicaid-paid births from Wisconsin, United States (2010–2018). The primary exposure was any maternal OUD during pregnancy. We also stratified this exposure on NOWS diagnosis (no OUD; OUD without NOWS; OUD with NOWS) and on maternal MOUD receipt (no OUD; OUD without MOUD; OUD with <90 consecutive days of MOUD; OUD with 90+ consecutive days of MOUD). Our outcome was infant mortality (death at age <365 days). Demographic-adjusted logistic regressions measured associations with odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI). Results: Maternal OUD was associated with increased odds of infant mortality (OR 1.43; 95% CI 1.02–2.02). After excluding infants who died <5 days post-birth (i.e., before the clinical presentation of NOWS), regression estimates of infant mortality did not significantly differ by NOWS diagnosis. Likewise, regression estimates did not significantly differ by maternal MOUD receipt in the full sample. Conclusions: Maternal OUD is associated with an elevated risk of infant mortality without evidence of modification by NOWS nor by maternal MOUD treatment. Future research should investigate potential mechanisms linking maternal OUD, NOWS, MOUD treatment, and infant mortality to better inform clinical intervention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number107914
JournalPreventive Medicine
StatePublished - Apr 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Epidemiology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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