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Original Research

Effects of Parental Opioid Use: Outcomes of Children of Parents in Medication-Assisted Treatment Compared to Healthy Controls

Hannah K. Betcher, MD; Jennifer L. Vande Voort, MD; Paul E. Croarkin, DO, MS; Kriti D. Gandhi, MD; Julia Shekunov, MD; Beth R. Larrabee, MS; Mara G. Limbeck; Teresa A. Rummans, MD; and Magdalena Romanowicz, MD

Published: August 15, 2019

Article Abstract

Background: Opioid use is a significant national crisis impacting individuals struggling with addiction and their families. The majority of individuals who abuse opioids are of child-rearing age, and critical knowledge gaps remain regarding how this abuse impacts their offspring. Fortunately, treatment for opioid use disorders is available. The primary goal of this study was to evaluate both physical and psychiatric diagnoses of children who have at least 1 parent participating in a buprenorphine-assisted treatment program.

Methods: This retrospective study is based on chart review (January 1, 2010, through June 30, 2018). Children with parents receiving care in a buprenorphine clinic were identified and matched on sex, race, and age in a ratio of 1:5 with controls from the general pediatric clinic population. Data related to health outcomes were extracted from the medical records.

Results: Compared to controls (n = 120), children of parents receiving buprenorphine-assisted treatment (n = 24) were more likely to have been born premature (odds ratio [OR] = 3.3, P = .035), had jaundice after birth (OR = 2.7, P = .034), had enuresis/encopresis (P < .001), and had been the victims of abuse or neglect (OR = 19.7, P = .0005). Children of parents with opioid use disorders were also more likely to utilize emergency services (ie, being seen in the emergency department for fussiness; OR = 4.0, P = .046) and were less likely to be covered by private insurance compared to state-funded insurance (OR = 0.2, P = .0013).

Conclusions: Parental opioid use disorder impacts children. More research is needed to better describe long-term effects of treatment of parental opioid use on their offspring and to help design addiction treatment programs to support whole family units.

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