Researchers Discover Potential Biological Markers to Detect Presence of Opioid Use Disorder during Pregnancy

Dec, 2020 - By SMI

Researchers Discover Potential Biological Markers to Detect Presence of Opioid Use Disorder during Pregnancy

According to a new research study, researchers of University of Missouri have reported to discover certain biological markers that has the potential for identifying the presence of an opioid use disorder during pregnancy. Researchers suggested that women depend on opioids such as oxycodone time and again for regulating pain during pregnancy and it is imperative to understand the effects of these opioid drugs on the fetal placenta that provides essential nutrients from a mother to her unborn child.

Moreover, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of pregnant women diagnosed with an opioid use disorder increased fourfold between 1999 and 2014.

Cheryl S. Rosenfeld, author of the study stated, “Many pregnant women are being prescribed opioids in particular OxyContin, or oxycodone to help with the pain they can experience during pregnancy, and this can lead to opioid use disorders. Many women also don't want to admit to taking these drugs, and we know that children born from mothers who have taken opioids during pregnancy experience post-birth conditions, such as low-birth weight”.

In this research study researchers focused on the effects of opioid drugs on the placenta as it is the vital organ that aids in communication between the mother and unborn child. Researchers also informed that this is one of the first studies that utilized an animal model (mouse model) to observe how mother's intake of oxycodone during her pregnancy can affect a mouse's placenta. Researchers involved mouse, as their placentas are quite similar to human. Later, researchers observed that opioid drug use during pregnancy negatively affects the structure of placenta, including lessening and destroying the cells that produce by-products essential for normal brain development and augmented certain gene expressions.

Researchers concluded that these expression patterns can act as potential biomarkers for detecting exposure to opioid drug oxycodone and can also aid in studying other regions of the body, such as the brain of the child exposed to opioids and its effect on it.

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