Am J Perinatol
DOI: 10.1055/a-2200-3187
Original Article

Association between Individual versus Community-level Social Vulnerability and Neonatal Opioid Withdrawal Syndrome among Pregnant Individuals Receiving Buprenorphine for Opioid Use Disorder

1   Division of Maternal Fetal Medicine, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, The Ohio State University College of Medicine, Columbus, Ohio
Mahmoud Abdelwahab
1   Division of Maternal Fetal Medicine, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, The Ohio State University College of Medicine, Columbus, Ohio
Alexandra Stiles
1   Division of Maternal Fetal Medicine, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, The Ohio State University College of Medicine, Columbus, Ohio
Jiqiang Wu
1   Division of Maternal Fetal Medicine, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, The Ohio State University College of Medicine, Columbus, Ohio
1   Division of Maternal Fetal Medicine, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, The Ohio State University College of Medicine, Columbus, Ohio
Kara M. Rood
1   Division of Maternal Fetal Medicine, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, The Ohio State University College of Medicine, Columbus, Ohio
› Author Affiliations
Funding None.


Objective Individual patient-level measures of adverse social determinants of health are associated with neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome (NOWS), but the relative impact of community-level adverse social determinants of health remains to be defined. We examined the association between community-level social vulnerability and NOWS among pregnant individuals receiving buprenorphine for opioid use disorder.

Study Design We conducted a secondary analysis of an established cohort of pregnant individuals and their infants participating in a multidisciplinary prenatal/addiction care program from 2013 to 2021. Addresses were geocoded using ArcGIS and linked at the census tract to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2018 Social Vulnerability Index (SVI), incorporating 15 census variables. The primary exposure was the SVI as a composite measure of community-level social vulnerability, and secondarily, individual scores for four thematic domains (socioeconomic status, household composition and disability, minority status and language, and housing type and transportation). The primary outcome was a clinical diagnosis of NOWS defined as withdrawal requiring pharmacological treatment following buprenorphine exposure.

Results Among 703 pregnant individuals receiving buprenorphine, 39.8% (280/703) of infants were diagnosed with NOWS. Among our patinets, those who were nulliparous, had post-traumatic stress disorder, a term birth (≥ 37 weeks) and had a male infant were more likely to have an infant diagnosed with NOWS. Individuals with and without an infant diagnosed with NOWS had similarly high community-level social vulnerability per composite SVI scores (mean [standard deviation]: 0.6 [0.4–0.7] vs. 0.6 [0.4–0.7], p = 0.2]. In adjusted analyses, SVI, as a composite measure as well as the four domains, was not associated with NOWS diagnosis.

Conclusion Among pregnant persons receiving buprenorphine enrolled in a multidisciplinary prenatal and addition care program, while individual risk factors that measure adverse social determinants of health were associated with an NOWS diagnosis in the infant, community-level social vulnerability as measured by the SVI was not associated with the outcome.

Key Points

  • Community-level SVI was not associated with neonatal opioid use disorder.

  • Certain individual risk factors were identified as being associated with NOWS.

  • Homogeneity of composite SVI scores may have led to lack of significant findings.


The findings were presented at the 43rd Annual Society of Maternal Fetal Medicine Pregnancy Meeting.

Publication History

Received: 12 June 2023

Accepted: 25 October 2023

Accepted Manuscript online:
27 October 2023

Article published online:
23 November 2023

© 2023. Thieme. All rights reserved.

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