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J Perinatol. 2000 Jun;20(4):219-24.

The effect of integrating substance abuse treatment with prenatal care on birth outcome.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Brown University School of Medicine, Providence, RI, USA.



To determine whether engaging pregnant substance abusers in an integrated program of prenatal care and substance abuse treatment would improve neonatal outcomes.


The subjects were women who voluntarily enrolled in Project Link, an intensive outpatient substance abuse treatment program at Women and Infants Hospital, Providence, RI. A total of 87 women received substance abuse treatment in conjunction with their prenatal care; the comparison group of 87 women received equivalent prenatal care but did not enroll in the substance abuse treatment program until after they delivered. The two groups of women were similar demographically and socioeconomically and had similar substance abuse histories. Univariate and multivariate analyses were performed. The key outcomes were gestational age at delivery, birth weight, preterm delivery, Apgar scores, and neonatal intensive care admission rate. Factors controlled in the multivariate models included demographics, socioeconomic status, parity, and prenatal care.


Infants born to women who enrolled prenatally were 400 gm heavier (p < 0.001), and their gestational age was 2 weeks longer (p < 0.001) than infants of mothers enrolled postpartum. In addition, they were approximately one-third as likely to be born with a low birth weight (p < 0.01) and approximately one-half as likely to be admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit (p < 0.05).


Neonatal outcome is significantly improved for infants born to substance abusers who receive substance abuse treatment concurrent with prenatal care compared with infants born to substance abusers who enter treatment postpartum.

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