ISSUE: PERINATAL SUBSTANCE ABUSE
STATEMENT: While recognizing the potential harmful effects of perinatal exposure to alcohol, opioids, and other drugs including nicotine on the health and well being of the mother and the fetus, a multifaceted approach to the problem is required. Addiction is a brain disorder leading to compulsive use of substances, and many others may create this exposure due to a lack of awareness of what constitutes at-risk use during pregnancy. MHAI recommends an ap-proach that increases public education and awareness of the risk of use to the mother and fetus during pregnancy, improved screening for perinatal exposure, improved care and ac-cess to appropriate care for pregnant women who abuse substances, and appropriate medi-cation assisted treatment for the mother and needed supports upon delivery.
MHAI would oppose punitive approaches to address this problem, as such may increase the risk to the fetus and the mother by creating a disincentive to get care and increasing the risk to both during pregnancy.
PRIORITY LEVEL: II