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Contact: Joe Martin
717-232-6787 or


Harrisburg, PA – December 11, 2018 – According to a new research brief released today by the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council (PHC4), substance use was present in 1 of every 25 maternal hospital stays (or 39.8 per 1,000) in the two-year period 2016-2017. The rate was 1 in 69 (or 14.6 per 1,000) in 2000-2001.

Opioid drugs were the most common substance used—accounting for about 49% of the 11,103 maternal hospital stays where substance use was present in 2016-2017. Opioid use was present in 1 of every 51 maternal hospital stays (or 19.6 per 1,000) during this period. The rate was 1 in 329 (or 3.0 per 1,000) in 2000-2001.

“These findings continue to stress how important it is to focus attention on the opioid crisis. The impact on new mothers, and new babies as previous PHC4 findings have shown, is alarming,” said Joe Martin, PHC4’s executive director.

The brief is part of a series produced by PHC4 that examines hospitalizations for substance use, opioids in particular, and the associated effect on Pennsylvania communities. The brief focuses primarily on the two-year period 2016-2017 but also examines trends since 2000-2001.

According to the brief, maternal stays where opioid use was present were more likely to have the following co-occurring conditions: tobacco use, mental health disorders, Hepatitis C infections, other substance use, false or pre-term labor, and slowed baby growth during pregnancy.

Medicaid was the primary anticipated payer in almost 82% of the maternal stays involving opioid use in 2016-2017.

Mothers who used opioids were also more likely to deliver premature or early-term babies. Nearly 48% of deliveries that involved maternal opioid use were premature or early term. With a readmission rate of 11.7%, mothers who used opioids and gave birth in 2016 were also more likely to be readmitted to the hospital within one year, compared to 4.6% for mothers who did not use opioids.

The findings also showed that rates of maternal hospital stays involving opioid use varied by poverty rate, education, and race/ethnicity.

Statewide, there were 19.6 maternal hospital stays involving opioid use per 1,000 maternal stays in the two-year period 2016-2017. The rate was 26.4 for residents living in high poverty areas compared to 14.4 for residents living in low poverty areas.

The rate for those living in areas where less than 10% of the population has a bachelor’s degree was 25.8 per 1,000 maternal stays. The rate was 9.7 per 1,000 for residents living in areas with higher levels of education (where 40% or more of the population has a bachelor’s degree).

The rates for white (non-Hispanic), black (non-Hispanic), and Hispanic residents were 24.5, 11.6, and 6.0, respectively.

County-level rates are also included in the brief.

The brief is available on PHC4’s website at You can also link to it through social media on Facebook and Twitter.

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.

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Phone: (717) 232-6787
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