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Vanderbilt: MPH Graduate to Lead Vanderbilt’s Participation in Multisite Study Focusing on Opioid Use During Pregnancy

The Vanderbilt Maternal Addiction Recovery Program is participating in a 12-site clinical trial that will compare two forms of the medication buprenorphine in treating opioid use disorder during pregnancy, and the results could have a potentially significant impact on clinical practice.

The study, funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, will randomize participants to either buprenorphine tablets, which dissolve under the tongue, or extended release buprenorphine, which is injected under the skin.

Currently, sublingual buprenorphine and methadone tablets are the two medications considered standard of care for opioid use disorder during pregnancy. Extended release buprenorphine has never been studied in pregnancy but is hypothesized to improve outcomes for both the mother and baby.

“The thought is that because the extended release buprenorphine is long-acting, it will maintain steady states of the medication, which will decrease cravings and relapses,” said Dr. Jessica Young, associate professor in Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

The study will look at relapse rates and infant outcomes — such as occurrences of neonatal abstinence syndrome and hospitalizations — as its primary outcomes.

“The results of this study could change treatment options for pregnant women with opioid use disorder,” said Dr. Young.

Led by Dr. Young, the Vanderbilt Maternal Addiction Recovery Program treats women with any type of substance use disorder during pregnancy. Women typically stay with the program for at least one year following delivery Afterward, they’re often transitioned to the same psychiatrist they saw through the program, ensuring continuity of care.

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