The number of overdose deaths among pregnant and postpartum women has seen a significant rise.

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The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) revealed a substantial surge in drug overdose deaths among pregnant and recently postpartum women aged 10 to 44 from 2018 to 2021. Notably, fatalities in the 35 to 44 age group more than tripled during this period, as indicated by data released on Wednesday and published in JAMA Psychiatry.

The study also highlighted that over 60% of overdose deaths related to pregnancy occurred outside healthcare facilities, often in regions where healthcare resources were accessible. NIDA Director Nora Volkow, MD, who is the senior author of the study, emphasized in a news release that the stigma and punitive policies surrounding pregnant individuals with substance use disorder (SUD) heighten the risk of overdose. Addressing these barriers and reducing the stigma can facilitate access to life-saving treatment and resources, fostering both the health of pregnant individuals and their children.

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