Rural-Urban Differences in Opioid-Affected Pregnancies and Births

Research center:
Lead researcher:
Project funded:
September 2017
Project completed:
August 2018

The opioid epidemic has had devastating health, social, and economic consequences for families across the U.S., with a disproportionate impact in rural areas. Non-medical opioid use and opioid use disorder during pregnancy are associated with poor maternal outcomes and adverse effects among infants. The diagnosis of maternal opioid use disorder in the U.S. increased disproportionately in rural counties from 2004 to 2013, indicating the need for rural-tailored information to inform opioid programs and policies. This analysis described the rates and predictors of non-medical opioid use prior to and during pregnancy and maternal diagnosis of opioid use disorder at birth, based on rural or urban maternal residence and rural or urban hospital location. Findings informed efforts to target resources most effectively and combat the opioid epidemic in rural communities.


  • Non-Medical Opioid Use Among Rural and Urban Pregnant Women, 2007-2014
    Policy Brief
    University of Minnesota Rural Health Research Center
    Date: 08/2018
    This policy brief presents data on rural-urban differences in non-medical opioid use among pregnant women to inform policy, programmatic, and clinical efforts to address this crisis.
  • Practical Implications: Opioid-Affected Births to Rural Residents
    Policy Brief
    University of Minnesota Rural Health Research Center
    Date: 09/2018
    This publication provides two physicians' reactions to research findings on rates of diagnosis of maternal opioid use disorder and infant neonatal abstinence syndrome at the time of childbirth for rural residents based on the type of hospital where the birth occurred.