Study: Women who use drugs during pregnancy need support

The Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse (CCSA) has released a study on drug use during pregnancy, and the effects of tobacco, alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, and heroin on maternal, neonatal, and early childhood health, advocating for compassion and support from health care providers. The study points out that existing health challenges faced by women who use drugs, alcohol, and tobacco are compounded by pregnancy, when drug use affects fetal development. As well, in addition to the physical harms of drug abuse, women who use drugs are susceptible to environmental and social risk factors such as abuse, prostitution, needle sharing, and depression and mental illness. 

The CCSA encourages health care providers to take the opportunity presented by pregnancy—a time during which women are more likely to seek support from the health care community—to relay information to mothers on the biological context of drug use in pregnancy. The report includes information on measures that can be taken to reduce harm to both the mother and the fetus, including a chapter on psychosocial issues which recommends a holistic approach to care, and stresses the role played by family and community in treatment and prevention. 

The report’s final call to action encourages efforts to use biomedical and psychosocial approaches to care for women who use drugs, particularly during pregnancy. To read the report visit

. Study: Women who use drugs during pregnancy need support. BCMJ, Vol. 55, No. 10, December, 2013, Page(s) - News.

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