Once again, the CDC is sounding the alarm regarding women and their disproportionately high rates of opioid painkiller use.

The New York Times reports on the newly released numbers: "Nearly one third of women of reproductive age had had an opioid painkiller prescription filled every year between 2008 and 2012." (Reproductive age here is defined as 15 to 55.) That's a lot! They broke the numbers out further, adding that the rate was 39 percent for women on Medicaid, 28 percent for the private insurance crowd.

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That's "astonishing" to CDC director Thomas R. Frieden, who specifically cited the risk of birth defects from exposure in early pregnancy. But it's not merely a matter of protecting potential kiddos: "These are dangerous drugs that are addictive and we are substantially overusing them." The population taking these pills also tended to be slightly older:

Among Medicaid beneficiaries, those 40 to 44 had the highest prescription rates and among privately insured women, the highest rates were among those 30 to 34. In both groups, women ages 15 to 19 were least likely to fill an opioid prescription.

This is particularly important because opioid addiction rates are climbing in the United States, with overdoses among women becoming disproportionately common.

Image via Shutterstock/Tish1.