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Curtin University
Perinatal Care of Substance Using Mothers and Their Infants

Antenatal Care

Illicit substance use during pregnancy is a risk factor for adverse events during pregnancy, including preterm birth or spontaneous abortion. Infants born to substance-using mothers are at risk of adverse neonatal outcomes and may also suffer from symptoms of drug withdrawal.

Research suggests that women who use drugs prior to and during pregnancy tend to use less antenatal care than women who do not use drugs, and are at greater risk of undetected pregnancy complications that may result in maternal and infant morbidity. Good quality antenatal care is associated with improved pregnancy outcomes, even with continued drug or alcohol use.

Early initiation of antenatal care can minimise the risk of complications, stabilise or reduce drug use to the lowest possible dose, and allows health professionals to develop a comprehensive care program which will support the woman throughout pregnancy and into the postnatal period.