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Scand J Caring Sci. 2013 Jun;27(2):285-94. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-6712.2012.01030.x. Epub 2012 Jul 3.

Behaviour among children of substance-abusing women attending a Special Child Welfare Clinic in Norway, as assessed by Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL).

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  • 1Addiction Unit/Research Unit, Sørlandet Hospital, Kristiansand, Norway. bjorg.hjerkinn@sshf.no



A Special Child Welfare Clinic (SCWC) in Norway provides care for pregnant women with substance abuse problems. Treatment is given without substitution. This investigation assesses the behaviour of the children between the ages 6 and 13 years of women who attended the clinic. It also explores the correlation between the behaviour and a neuropsychological screening performed one and a half year earlier. The study was set up to investigate the influence of prenatal substance exposure.


Thirty-eight SCWC children and 63 children in a comparison group were scored by Child Behavior Check List (CBCL). Twenty-one (55%) SCWC mothers were classed as short-term users (ceased substance abuse before the end of first trimester), and 17 (45%) were classed as long-term users (continued a moderate substance abuse throughout pregnancy). Thirteen (77%) of the children of the long-term users were living in foster homes at the time of the investigation.


SCWC children were scored within normal ranges for most items, but their scores were significantly worse than those of the comparison group. Children of short-term users were given lower scores than comparisons on more issues in CBCL than were children of long-term users. The SCWC children were breastfed for a shorter time (p = 0.023) and had moved house more often (p < 0.001) than comparisons. SCWC children living with their biological mothers received more special education or remedial classes (p ≤ 0.001) than children of the comparisons.


Most children of long-term users were living in foster homes. Notably, children of short-term users, that is, children living with their biological mothers, were given lower scores than comparisons in CBCL. Children of short-term users were more likely to receive special education than children of comparisons. More research is needed on how to reveal parenting problems and how to guide mothers with previous or present substance abuse problems.

© 2012 Nordic College of Caring Science.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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