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Scand J Public Health. 2017 Dec;45(8):782-788. doi: 10.1177/1403494817713544. Epub 2017 Jul 7.

Care and supportive measures in school-aged children with prenatal substance exposure.

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1 Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Division of Psychiatry, Haukeland University Hospital, Bergen, Norway.
2 Department of Clinical Medicine, University of Bergen, Norway.
3 Regional Centre for Child and Youth Mental Health and Child Welfare, Uni Research Health, Norway.



Prenatal exposure to substances, including alcohol, opiates, and a number of illicit drugs, may have a negative impact on fetal development. Studies have shown that substance exposure can influence a child's neurodevelopment and the need for care and supportive measures. In this study, we aimed to investigate the care status and the level of supportive measures in school-aged children prenatally exposed to alcohol and other substances.


This study included children aged between 6 and 14 years who were referred to Haukeland University Hospital in Norway with developmental impairment and a history of prenatal substance exposure. Participants were classified according to their main prenatal exposure to either alcohol or other substances. Information on care status and supportive measures was obtained from medical records and participants' caregivers. We also compared the use of supportive measures for children placed into foster care before and after 1 year of age.


A total of 111 (87% of 128 referrals) eligible children participated in the study. Of these 111 children, 96 (86%) were in foster care, of whom 29 (30%) were placed into foster care during their first year of life and 83 out of 90 (92%) had supportive measures, including reinforced foster care and school or social support.


A high proportion of the sample lived in foster care and received supportive measures. Findings may reflect an increased need of care and support in school-aged children with prenatal substance exposure, highlighting the importance of awareness among caregivers and public agencies.


Prenatal substance exposure; care; child development; support; supportive measure

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