Drug induced death number one cause of death in pregnant women: study

Despite the attention given to the growing opioid epidemic, one particularly vulnerable group has been overlooked, until now.

Researchers at the University of Utah Health found that drug-induced death was the number-one cause of death amongst pregnant women.

The study published in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology examined women from 2005 to 2014 who died during pregnancy or within one year from the end of pregnancy.

Drug-induced deaths were the leading cause, primarily opioid-related, while 80 per cent of the deaths were in the late postpartum period after mom was no longer having check-ups with the obstetrician.

During pregnancy, most women stop or decrease their substance use, and they are at particularly high risk for relapse in the postpartum period due to multiple factors including postpartum depression and possible decreased tolerance.

The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists now recommends extending postpartum care to a "fourth trimester," rather than the typical 6-week postpartum check.