Director, Division of Birth Defects and Infant Disorders
National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Opioid exposure during pregnancy has been linked to some negative health effects for both mothers and their babies, including neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS). More than 26,000 babies were diagnosed with NAS in 2016. The CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities is advancing public health efforts to address the opioid crisis in a number of areas. The CDC collaborated with the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists to pass a standardized case definition for NAS and is currently working to implement it in 4-8 states. With funding from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Trust Fund, the CDC is working across 3-5 clinical sites to examine different treatment methods for opioid use disorder among pregnant women to better understand maternal, infant, and child outcomes; this work will help inform best practices for treatment of opioid use disorder in pregnancy. In addition, the CDC has examined the feasibility of monitoring NAS using existing birth defects surveillance methods, studied longer term outcomes for children with a history of NAS, and examined possible associations between opioid exposure during pregnancy and other adverse outcomes such as birth defects. The CDC has also collaborated with a partner organization, the March of Dimes, on an educational resource (Beyond Labels) for community health workers to reduce stigma toward pregnant women with opioid use disorder and other health conditions.