Main Article Content
Accurate estimation of prenatal opioid exposure (POE) is needed for population-based surveillance & research but can be challenging with health administrative data due to varying definitions & methods. Prior research has relied primarily on infant records with a diagnosis of neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS).
Objectives and Approach
1) Evaluate the impact of using different definitions of maternal opioid use in the estimation of POE; 2) Investigate whether maternal characteristics vary by the type of definition used. Population-based cross-sectional study of all hospital births (N= 454,746) from 2014-2017 in Ontario, Canada. Multiple linked population-based health administrative databases were used to identify opioid-related pre- & perinatal Emergency Department visits & hospitalizations & opioid prescriptions. We examined how pre-conception & in-pregnancy maternal characteristics varied by using different approaches to ascertain POE.
There were 9624 live/still births with POE. Ascertainment of POE was highest using maternal prescription drug data (79%) & infant hospital records with NAS (45%). Maternal characteristics varied by data source used for POE ascertainment. Opioid-related health care during pregnancy identified a high-risk phenotype, contrasted with those ascertained through prescription data, with respective rates of 64% vs. 54% for social assistance, 37% vs. 12% for polydrug use, 23% vs. 6% for alcohol use, 26% vs. 19% for 3+ live births, 13% vs. 5% for victim of violence, 12% vs. 6% for involvement in criminal justice system & 64% vs. 17% for mental health & addictions hospital care.
Conclusion / Implications
POE ascertainment differs by health administrative data source & ability to link both across maternal records and with infant. Prescription drug data identified the highest number of opioid-exposed births and, with linked healthcare records, is useful to identify illicit opioid use & additional risk factors. Clinically meaningful differences in maternal characteristics of opioid users exist by POE ascertainment method.
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