Report: Opioids leading cause of pregnancy-related deaths

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SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – A new study from University of Utah says opioids are a leading cause of pregnancy-related deaths in Utah.

Researchers found 26 percent of the 136 deaths reviewed in the Mortality Review committee database were linked to drug use and more than 70% of those drug-induced deaths were associated with opioids.

The remaining deaths were associated with hypertension, infection, homicide/suicide, hemorrhage, malignancy, and other causes.

Dr. Macela Smid, an assistant professor of maternal and fetal medicine at U of U Health and first author on the paper, notes the study is based in a state with a small population and does not include insurance status at the time of death or insurance lapses. It also lacks complete data on abuse or intimate partner violence and complete information about substance use treatment or social circumstances

“We cannot do anything for the moms who died, but as a health care institution, we can identify the holes in care and plug them,” said Smid “We need to develop an addiction-knowledgeable obstetrics workforce.”

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