Opioids linked to miscarriage, lower fertility

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Women who use opioids have a lower chance of conceiving and have a greater chance of miscarrying should they conceive, according to a recent National Institutes of Health study.

Researchers analyzed data from the Effects of Aspirin in Gestation and Reproduction trial. The trial followed 1,228 women from 18 to 40 years old with a history of one or two miscarriages to discover whether low-dose aspirin prevents pregnancy loss. The women were followed either throughout pregnancy or for six months.

Of the study participants, 18 percent used opioids while trying to conceive, and 5 percent used opioids in early pregnancy.

Those who used opioids had a 29 percent lower chance of conceiving. Of those who did conceive, the odds of miscarrying were 1.5 times higher.

Of those who used opioids during the first four weeks of pregnancy, the risk of miscarriage was two times higher. If opioids were used in the fourth through eighth weeks of pregnancy, the risk increased to 2.5 times.

Researchers said more research is needed to determine the effects opioids have on fertility and early pregnancy. Until then, patients and physicians must evaluate the risks and benefits.

Opioids often are used as a treatment after assisted-reproduction procedures.

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