Early treatment for addiction leads to normal pregnancy


OAKLAND, Calif. Pregnant women who receive treatment for tobacco, alcohol and illegal drug abuse early in their pregnancies get results as good as those of women without drug abuse problems, a Kaiser Permanente study reported.

Researchers looked at 49,985 women in the HMO’s prenatal care program, and examined use of cigarettes, alcohol, marijuana, methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin.

The researchers compared a control group of 46,553 women with no signs of substance abuse to 2,073 who were screened, assessed and received ongoing treatment at 21 Kaiser Permanente outpatient obstetric clinics in northern California between 1999 and 2003. A further 1,203 were screened and assessed but received brief treatment. The remaining 156 were screened but refused assessment and treatment.

The results showed that the risk of complications such as stillbirth, separation of the placental lining from the uterus and low birth weight were several times higher in the 156 women who refused treatment than in the ones who received ongoing treatment.

“The key message here to women who are currently smoking, drinking or using other drugs, or who recently tried to stop, is that it is not too late to seek help when you find out you are pregnant,” said Nancy Goler, an obstetrician and gynecologist with Kaiser Permanente.

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