By Chip Brownlee
Alabama Political Reporter
As conversations continue about how to handle the deadly opioid crisis in America, the University of Alabama at Birmingham has established a program to assist women who are pregnant and addicted to opioids and other substance abuse disorders.
The program will offer patients routine prenatal care, treatment programs including opioid replacement therapy, help to navigating Medicaid, food and nutritional services, and other childcare and prenatal services.
“Pregnant women and their infants are victims of the opioid epidemic that has been labeled a public health crisis in the United States,” said Dr. Lorie Harper, associate professor in the UAB Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine. “Women with substance use disorders during pregnancy face substantial barriers to care. The Comprehensive Program for Addiction in Pregnancy will provide coordinated, multidisciplinary care to women suffering substance use disorders during pregnancy and postpartum.”
The program, the UAB Comprehensive Program for Addiction in Pregnancy, was established with a $221,770 grant from the UAB Health Services Foundation General Endowment Fund.
Social workers will also be on hand to help patients coordinate postpartum care.
The program is intended to increase access to care and reduce health care costs by combatting common barriers that face women with substance abuse disorders during pregnancy, which include social stigma, legal consequences, transportation, poor communication between providers and limited addiction treatment program facilities.
“The Comprehensive Program for Addiction in Pregnancy is very timely and allows us to follow these high-risk infants and assess their neurodevelopment,” said Dr. Brian Sims, associate professor in the UAB Division of Neonatology. “This is a groundbreaking step in the battle against opiate addiction and will help us have better information on the growth and development of these infants.”