A National Survey Of State Maternal And Newborn Drug Testing And Reporting Policies
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A National Survey Of State Maternal And Newborn Drug Testing And Reporting Policies

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  • Alternative Title:
    Public Health Rep
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    The prevalence rate of drug use by pregnant women in the U.S. has been shown to range from 7.5 percent to 11 percent. Drug exposure in utero has been associated with deleterious effects on the fetus and newborn. Public health officials are currently confronted with difficult policy decisions with regard to testing and reporting of pregnant and post-partum women and the provision of appropriate services. The widespread lack of consistent policy on the State level has led to bias in testing and reporting procedures and to the inappropriate use of the legal system as a deterrent to drug use during pregnancy. A survey of the 50 States and the District of Columbia found that no State currently has enacted legislation regarding testing. Thirteen States have mandatory reporting policies for drug-exposed newborns. Eleven of these States require reporting to social service agencies, at least 3 States routinely report to criminal justice agencies, and 10 require that reports be filed as child abuse or neglect. Many States without mandatory reporting statutes indicate that reports are made to social service agencies at the discretion of the health care provider. During fiscal year 1990, only 22 States specifically allocated funds for programs that address perinatal substance use. In States with mandatory reporting policies, reports should be made only to social service agencies in conjunction with the provision of appropriate preventive, medical, and social services to the woman and her infant. Interagency coordination is necessary to standardize testing and reporting practices within States and to effectively allocate resources.
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