PHC4 Research Brief - Neonatal and Maternal Hospitalizations Related to Substance Use - News Release


Contact: Joe Martin
717-232-6787 or

PHC4 Data Shows Large Increases in Neonatal and Maternal Hospitalizations Related to Substance Use.

Harrisburg, PA - September 27, 2016 - The Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council (PHC4) has released a new research brief on neonatal and maternal hospitalizations related to substance use. Examining hospital discharges between 2000 and 2015, the brief presents statewide findings that show a 250% increase in the rate of neonatal hospital stays for substance use and a 119% increase in substance-related maternal stays. The brief also includes county-level hospitalization rates for neonatal and maternal stays related to substance use.

“These findings stress the alarming impact that substance use problems have on new mothers and babies in communities across the Commonwealth,” said Joe Martin, PHC4’s executive director.

In 2015, a substance-related condition was present in nearly 1 in 50 neonatal hospital stays. The total number of neonatal stays related to substance use was 2,691. That figure represents a rate of 19.5 per 1,000 neonatal stays, up from 5.6 in 2000—a 250% increase. Low birth weight, respiratory distress, difficulty feeding, and prematurity were more likely to occur among neonatal stays related to substance use than among all other neonatal stays.

Neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS), which is caused most often when a woman takes opioids during pregnancy, was present in about 82.0% of the neonatal drug-related stays in 2015. Between 2000 and 2015, the rate of NAS increased from 1.6 to 16.0 per 1,000 neonatal stays—an increase of 870%.

Neonatal stays related to substance use add to the cost of care through additional days spent in the hospital and increased payments. Overall, neonatal hospitalizations related to substance use added almost 28,000 hospitals days in 2015. Additional payments amounted to an estimated $20.3 million.

There were 4,615 maternal hospital stays related to substance use in 2015—affecting 1 in 30 maternal stays. Between 2000 and 2015 the rate of maternal hospital stays related to substance use increased from 14.8 to 32.4 per 1,000 maternal stays—an increase of 119%.

Of the 4,615 maternal hospital stays related to substance use, almost 52% involved opioid drugs. Between 2000 and 2015, maternal hospital stays involving opioids increased from 2.8 to 16.8 per 1,000—an increase of 510%.

Overall, maternal hospitalizations related to substance use added over 2,100 hospital days in 2015, and additional payments amounted to an estimated $1.8 million.

PHC4 is an independent state agency charged with collecting, analyzing and reporting information that can be used to improve the quality and restrain the cost of health care in Pennsylvania.