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Foundational Research

Impact of maternal substance use during pregnancy on childhood outcome

Shankaran S, Lester BM, Das A, Bauer CR, Bada HS, Lagasse L, Higgins R. Semin Fetal Neonatal Med. 2007 Apr; 12(2): 143-50. Epub 2007 Feb 20.

The impact of maternal substance abuse is reflected in the 2002-2003 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Among pregnant women in the 15-44 age group, 4.3%, 18% and 9.8% used illicit drugs, tobacco and alcohol, respectively. Maternal pregnancy complications following substance use include increases in sexually transmitted disorders, placental abruption and HIV-positive status. Effects on the neonate include a decrease in growth parameters and increases in central nervous system and autonomic nervous system signs and in referrals to child protective agencies. In childhood, behavioral and cognitive effects are seen after prenatal cocaine exposure; tobacco and alcohol have separate and specific effects. The ongoing use of alcohol and tobacco by the caretaker affects childhood behavior. Therefore, efforts should be made to prevent and treat behavioral problems as well as to limit the onset of drug use by adolescent children born to women who use drugs during pregnancy.


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