Trends in prenatal prescription opioid use among Medicaid beneficiaries in Wisconsin, 2010–2019

Deborah B. Ehrenthal, Yi Wang, Jessica Pac, Christine Piette Durrance, Russell S. Kirby, Lawrence M. Berger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To examine changes in prenatal opioid prescription exposure following new guidelines and policies. Study design: Cohort study of all (262,284) Wisconsin Medicaid-insured live births 2010–2019. Prenatal exposures were classified as analgesic, short term, and chronic (90+ days), and medications used to treat opioid use disorder (MOUD). We describe overall and stratified temporal trends and used linear probability models with interaction terms to test their significance. Result: We found 42,437 (16.2%) infants with prenatal exposure; most (90.5%) reflected analgesic opioids. From 2010 to 2019, overall exposure declined 12.8 percentage points (95% CI = 12.1–13.1). Reductions were observed across maternal demographic groups and in both rural and urban settings, though the extent varied. There was a small reduction in chronic analgesic exposure and a concurrent increase in MOUD. Conclusion: Broad and sustained declines in prenatal prescription opioid exposure occurred over the decade, with little change in the percentage of infants chronically exposed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Perinatology
StateAccepted/In press - 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology

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