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Clearinghouse Review

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Alcohol and other drug use among women of child-bearing age has increased dramatically, and, as a result, more pregnant women are faced with alcohol and other drug problems. The only known national estimate suggests that 11 percent of pregnant women used illegal drugs during their pregnancy. Although pregnant crack-addicted women have received the most media attention, the problem is no less serious for alcohol and other drugs.

Alcohol and other drug use during pregnancy has negative physical and psychological consequences for both the mother and the child. Alcoholic mothers are at risk of having infants with fetal alcohol syndrome, which includes mental retardation, growth retardation, and physical abnormalities. Addicted mothers are also less likely than other expectant mothers to obtain appropriate prenatal care and nutrition, resulting in highrisk pregnancies as well as low birth weight babies who are more at risk of infant mortality and childhood disability. These women and their children are also at high risk of AIDS-80 percent of women and children with AIDS became infected as a result of drug use-and other sexually transmitted diseases. There is also a strong correlation between alcohol and other drug dependence and a number of other social problems, such as child abuse and neglect, domestic violence, sexual abuse, and homelessness.



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