MAT-LINK: MATernaL and Infant NetworK to Understand Outcomes Associated with Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder during Pregnancy

MAT-LINK is a surveillance system to monitor maternal, infant, and child health outcomes associated with treatment for opioid use disorder during pregnancy.

expectant mother

Background

  • Opioid use during pregnancy increases the risk of neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS). Recent evidence suggests that children born with NAS may be at increased risk for developmental delays.1,2
  • Opioid use during pregnancy has also been associated with other adverse health effects, including poor fetal growth, preterm birth, stillbirth, and specific birth defects.3
  • Health outcomes, including long-term outcomes, have not been systematically studied for children with prenatal opioid exposure.
  • Through funding from the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation’s Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Trust Fund, CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities established MAT-LINK.

MAT-LINK Goals

  • Improve understanding of the range of maternal, infant, and child health outcomes associated with treatment for opioid use disorder during pregnancy.
  • Examine the possible effects of exposure to multiple substances and other risk factors on maternal and infant outcomes.

Example Information in MAT-LINK

expectant mom

Pregnancy Exposure

  • Opioid use disorder
  • Use of other substances
  • Treatment for opioid use disorder
  • Mental health conditions
  • Chronic medical conditions
  • Medications

Maternal Outcomes

  • Pregnancy complications
  • Delivery complications
  • Hospital length of stay
sleeping baby

Perinatal Outcomes

  • Preterm birth
  • Small for gestational age/low birthweight
  • Neonatal complications (including neonatal abstinence syndrome)
baby sitting on the floor

Infant and Child Outcomes

  • Cognitive development
  • Language/communication development
  • Motor development
  • Social/emotional development
  • Growth

How These Data Will Be Collected and Used

  • Data on maternal, infant, and child health outcomes associated with the treatment of opioid use disorder during pregnancy will be collected across four clinical sites: Boston Medical Center Corporation, Kaiser Foundation Research Institute (Center for Health Research-Northwest), The Ohio State University, and University of Utah.
  • Results from MAT-LINK will be used to inform clinical practice recommendations and clinical decision-making around treatment for opioid use disorder among pregnant women.
  • In addition, this project will develop and pilot a data platform to collect and link maternal, infant, and child data across clinical sites. This can serve as a model for collecting data on other exposures during pregnancy.

MAT-LINK Partners

Implementation Partner

The Public Health Informatics Institute (PHII)external icon, a program of The Task Force for Global Health, serves as the implementation partner for the MAT-LINK projectexternal icon.

The MAT-LINK Partners Group includes clinical and public health organizations, as well as federal agencies that have an interest in maternal and child health, child development, substance use, and public health. Examples of partner activities include sharing perspectives and priorities and disseminating project results and lessons learned to partner organizations’ membership and stakeholders. MAT-LINK partner organizations are listed below.

Clinical & Public Health Organization Partners

American Academy of Pediatrics | American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists | Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs | Association of Public Health Laboratories | Association of State and Territorial Health Officials | National Association of County and City Health Officials | National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Federal Agency Partners

Administration for Children and Families | Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services | Food and Drug Administration | Health Resources and Services Administration | National Institutes of Health/National Institute on Drug Abuse | Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health | Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

Learn More


1 Fill MA, Miller AM, Wilkinson RH, Warren MD, Dunn JR, Schaffner W, et al. Educational disabilities among children born with neonatal abstinence syndrome. Pediatrics. 2018:124(3). | 2 Oei JL, Melhuish E, Uebel H, Azzam N, Breen C, Burns L, et al. Neonatal abstinence syndrome and high school performance. Pediatrics. 2017:139(2). |
3 https://www.cdc.gov/pregnancy/opioids/basics.html