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The Effects Of Opioid Use In Women

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Introduction
According to Lowe (2017), “…across the United States, a woman presents every 3 minutes to an emergency department for opioid misuse or abuse” (p.657). With the significant increase in the misuse of opioids over the last thirty years in the US, it has become a serious public health concern. With the most dramatic rise in opioid use being of childbearing age women, it is a very important issue in maternal health care (Keough & Fantasia, 2017). It is imperative that nurses are informed and have efficient knowledge of the potential risks, effects, treatment, and prevention of opioid dependence during pregnancy.
Opioid Use in Women
All opioids, including illegal substances like heroin and legal prescription pain reducers such as
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It can cause substantial teratogenic effects early in gestation, during the embryonic stage. During the fetal period, abnormal growth and maturation, alterations in neurotransmitters and their receptors, and brain organization are direct effects caused by opioid abuse (Behnke & Smith, 2017). Continuous use of opioids throughout pregnancy increases the risk of prematurity and growth retardation, deficits in attention, cognition, and behavior, neonatal morbidity and mortality, and neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) (McQueen, Murphy-Oikonen, & Desaulniers, 2015).
An abrupt cessation of opioids during pregnancy can lead to many severe complications, affecting both mother and fetus. Poor fetal outcomes may be seen due to this discontinuation of opioids such as an increased risk of intrauterine passage of meconium and neonatal aspiration, preterm labor and birth, fetal growth restriction, as well as fetal distress or demise (Keough & Fantasia, 2017). There is also an increased risk of placenta previa, placental abruption, premature rupture of membranes, and postpartum hemorrhage, all maternal high-risk factors (Shaw et al., 2016). Therefore, it is detrimental to educate woman of the child-bearing age of these dangers prior to their attempt to conceive.
Due to the high risks associated with an untreated opioid addiction during pregnancy, medication-assisted treatment is the standard of care, which is a combination of behavioral
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