High Prevalence of Buprenorphine in Prenatal Drug Screens in an Appalachian City

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Objectives To define the magnitude of buprenorphine presence in the urine drug screens of pregnant women and to assess the presence of illicit buprenorphine use versus the presence of prescribed buprenorphine use. Methods Initial prenatal drug screen results for all pregnant patients in our practice for a 1-year period were analyzed and tabulated. Results Buprenorphine was found in the urine drug screens of 16% of pregnant patients. The presence of buprenorphine was by far the highest for any substance associated with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS). We estimate that the exposure to buprenorphine of approximately one-third of individuals in our population is associated with illicit buprenorphine use. Conclusions The high rate of NAS in our region is primarily associated with both illicit and prescribed buprenorphine rather than other substances. Buprenorphine usage at the time that prenatal care is initiated, rather than opiate use at the onset of prenatal care, is the underlying factor that must be addressed if our region is to successfully combat our high rates of NAS.