Preconception Substance Use and Risk of Unintended Pregnancy: Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System 2016-17

Shafique S, Umer A, Innes KE, Rudisill TM, Fang W, Cottrell L. Preconception Substance Use and Risk of Unintended Pregnancy: Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System 2016-17. J Addict Med. 2021 Jul 29. doi: 10.1097/ADM.0000000000000886.


Objective: This study examined the association between preconception substance use and unintended pregnancy in a large, nationally representative sample of women.

Methods: In this cross-sectional study, we used data from the Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS) comprising, 74,543 women who had birth during 2016-17. Logistic regression was used to assess the independent association of unintended pregnancy overall and by subtypes to preconception substance use (smoking and other nicotine/tobacco use, alcohol consumption, and use of cannabis, illicit/recreational drugs) and specific medication including prescription opioids, antidepressants and over the counter pain relief.

Results: Overall, 41% of pregnancies were unintended. Nearly 57% of participants reported alcohol consumption during the preconception period, with 32% indicating binge drinking, 17% reported preconception smoking, and 10% cannabis use. Unintended pregnancy was significantly associated with substance use, including smoking (adjusted odds ratio [AOR]:1.5, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.4-1.6); as well as the use of other nicotine/tobacco (AOR:1.4, 95% CI: 1.3-1.5); cannabis (AOR: 1.9, 95% CI: 1.5-2.3); illicit/recreational drugs (AOR:1.7, 95% CI: 1.2-2.4), prescription opioids (AOR:1.4, 95% CI: 1.02-1.9), and prescription antidepressants (AOR 1.8, 95% CI: 1.1-3.0). The likelihood of unintended pregnancy was significantly elevated with heavy smoking, heavy alcohol consumption, and binge drinking. Analyses by unintended pregnancy subtype yielded similar results.

Conclusions: Preconception substance use was significantly and positively associated with unintended pregnancy. Evidence-based interventions are needed addressing substance use behavior and effective contraceptive use to prevent unintended pregnancy and related adverse effects on maternal and child health.

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