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Child Welfare. 2001 Mar-Apr;80(2):275-96.

Research outcomes of prenatal substance exposure and the need to review policies and procedures regarding child abuse reporting.

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Human Services Policy Information at the School of Social Work, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, USA.


Research on the outcomes of drug-exposed children evinces elevated developmental risks from the interaction of subtle biological vulnerabilities and compromised parenting. States, however, have generally not reviewed the procedures and policies they developed in the early 1990s when there was less research and experience with these children. At that time the gravest risks related to perinatal substance exposure seemed to be excessively punitive treatment of mothers by over-zealous criminal justice prosecutors. This article clarifies policy options for reporting and serving children who are born testing positive for controlled substances and also calls for strengthening existing state policies regarding child abuse reporting and response.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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