Clean Start – Preventing Substance Abuse During Pregnancy

Substance Abuse in Pregnancy is a REAL Problem…

  •  Births by women in Sarasota who are misusing or abusing legal and illegal drugs who are receiving Healthy Start services accounted for 9% of all births in 2008-2009. There has been a consistent increase in substance abuse during pregnancy in recent years.
  • According to the Florida Department of Health, the reported smoking prevalence in pregnancy represents over 12% of all births in Sarasota County in 2008.
  • Substance misuse or abuse whether tobacco, alcohol, legal medications, or illegal drugs contributes to obstetric and pediatric complications, including fetal-alcohol spectrum disorders, prematurity, low birth weight, placenta implantation abnormalities and withdrawal for the infant.
  • Outward signs of substance abuse may be subtle. Pregnant women may not present with the same stereotypical symptoms seen in an older or late-stage abuse population.

Your Intervention Can Help…

  • Treatment for substance abuse during pregnancy is significantly more effective than at other times in a woman’s life.
  • Attention to substance abuse problems during pregnancy is one area in which patient health can be improved and costs can be reduced.
  • Quick, brief questionnaires have been demonstrated to be effective in prenatal care for assessing alcohol and drug use.
  • Asking every patient questions in a health context lessens the stigma associated with the topic, and expresses concern for the health of the mother and baby.
  • Many pregnant women will reduce their use of drugs and/or alcohol following supportive advice from a health care professional, even if they never disclose that use.

Helpful Tips for Screening for Substance Abuse During Pregnancy

  • Incorporate a screening tool for misuse or abuse of alcohol, legal medication, illegal drugs, and smoking into every prenatal intake and history form
  • Find an approach that is comfortable for you
  • Be nonjudgmental and supportive when asking about use
  • Become familiar with the risks of substance abuse and the benefits of stopping during pregnancy.
  • Stress benefits of abstinence and offer to help the patient achieve it
  • Know where to refer a patient for further assessment
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If you are concerned that one of your pregnant patients or new moms may be struggling with substance abuse or addiction, call the Healthy Start Program at 861-2905. We can help your patient find appropriate resources and treatment.