Doctor Craig Towers Pioneers Change

Dr. Craig Towers
Dr. Craig Towers

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) offers new guidance that looks at the recommended therapy for pregnant women with an opioid use disorder. This new guidance provides a detailed and up-to-date overview of the treatment options and screening recommendations, and was pioneered by Dr. Craig Towers, maternal-fetal medicine specialist with High Risk Obstetrical Consultants, a division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine at UTMC.

On Feb. 6, 2016, at the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine’s annual meeting in Atlanta, Towers unveiled important research findings on a study he lead, announcing evidence that maternal opiate detoxification during pregnancy significantly improves pregnancy outcome, without putting the fetus at risk.

Additionally, Towers’ findings were published in some of the nation’s leading obstetrics and gynecology publications and his work at UTMC has been profiled by national media outlets including CNN and Modern Healthcare magazine.

“As opiate addiction increasingly creeps into the pregnant population, mothers expose their unborn babies to drugs that often cause Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS),” said Towers. “Identifying opiate addicted pregnant women, getting them into a program that can first medically withdraw them and then be supported by follow-ups to further aid a drug-free lifestyle is of paramount importance.”

According to ACOG, opioid agonist pharmacotherapy, also known as medication-assisted treatment (MAT), continues to be the recommended therapy for pregnant women with an opioid use disorder. However, this new guidance, spearheaded by Towers, also recognizes that medically supervised withdrawal can be considered under the care of a physician experienced in perinatal addiction treatment if a woman does not accept MAT. 

“I am glad to hear ACOG is recognizing that medically supervised withdrawal under the care of an experienced physician can be offered to pregnant women with opioid use disorder as an additional option beyond MAT,” said Towers. “This approach is very successful when connected with behavioral health and results in babies born who do not suffer NAS.”

“Our outstanding team of physicians and healthcare professionals at the medical center constantly strive to provide patient-centric care,” said Joe Landsman, UTMC’s President and CEO. “We’re proud of Dr. Towers’ pioneering research which has changed the protocol relative to treating pregnant, drug-dependent women.”