A study from the Waisman Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), found that mothers who were prescribed opioids just before becoming pregnant were more likely to have a child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or a child with other developmental disabilities (DDs) and some autism symptoms. This study is among the first to look at associations between prescription of opioids in pregnancy and ASD and other DDs. 

Read the scientific summary of the article.

Main Findings

  • Mothers who were prescribed opioids just before becoming pregnant (1.2% of mothers with a child in the ASD group) were about 2.5 times more likely to have a child with ASD or a child with other DDs and some autism symptoms.
  • In this sample, about 8% of mothers reported receiving an opioid prescription just before or during pregnancy. The majority (76%) of these mothers received only one prescription. The most common reasons for opioid prescriptions were migraine headaches, injury, and back pain. Illicit opioid use was not included in this analysis.

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