Illicit drug use rising among pregnant women

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Aug. 5, 2013

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Although alcohol use has decreased among pregnant women during a recent 10-year period, illicit drug use in that population is increasing, said a report issued July 25 by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Thirty-five percent of pregnant women ages 15 to 44 who were admitted to substance abuse treatment in 2010 reported alcohol abuse, which is down from 47% in 2000, data show. On the other hand, 64% of pregnant women in treatment reported drug abuse but not alcohol abuse in 2010 compared with 51% of such individuals in 2000, the report said.

Any kind of substance use by pregnant women can result in miscarriage, premature birth or a variety of behavioral and cognitive problems in the child when he or she is born, SAMHSA said.

Nonpregnant women of the same age who were admitted to substance abuse treatment showed a similar pattern of decreasing alcohol abuse and rising illicit drug abuse during the 10-year study period, according to SAMHSA (link).

To address the problem, health professionals should consider focusing more attention on addressing drug abuse among that population, the report said.

For the report, researchers examined data from the Treatment Episode Data Set. TEDS is composed of information that routinely is collected by states in monitoring their individual substance abuse systems.

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