- 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
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.