When children are prenatally exposed to drugs and alcohol, they can experience a range of negative effects that can last a lifetime.1 States are legislatively required to have policies and procedures for reporting substance-exposed newborns to child protective services, to assess the need for intervention, and establish a plan of care. Resources in this section include strategies used in the States to address prenatal substance exposure, information about the various effects of the most common drugs involved with prenatal exposure, and more.
A Care Coordination Program for Substance-Exposed Newborns
Twomey, Caldwell, Soave, Andreozzi Fontaine, & Lester (2011)
Child Welfare, 90(5)
Promotes permanency for substance-exposed newborns in the child welfare system by working closely with their parents and the social service agencies, such as child welfare agencies, courts, and substance abuse treatment providers that are major influences in placement outcomes.
Parenting and Substance Abuse: Developmental Approaches to Intervention
Suchman, Pajulo, & Mayes (2013)
Reports on pioneering efforts to move the treatment of substance-abusing parents forward by embracing their roles and experiences as mothers and fathers directly and continually across the course of treatment.
Prenatal Substance Abuse: Short- and Long-term Effects on the Exposed Fetus
Behnke & Smith (2013)
American Academy of Pediatrics, 131(3)
Provides information for the most common drugs involved in prenatal exposure and discusses the prevention, identification, recognition, protection, and follow-up of the exposed infant.
National Center Substance Abuse and Child Welfare (2015)
Provides resources on prenatal substance exposure to support professionals who work with families.
Substance-Exposed Infants: A Report on Progress in Practice and Policy Development in States Participating in a Program of In-Depth Technical Assistance September 2015 to September 2016 (PDF - 426 KB)
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration & Children's Bureau (2017)
Synthesizes key lessons, challenges, barriers, and strategies for increasing effective cross-system, collaborative technical assistance for professionals supporting substance-exposed infants. This report focuses on research conducted in five states, including Connecticut, Kentucky, Minnesota (with a focus on Tribal communities), New Jersey, and Virginia.
Substance-Exposed Infants: State Responses to the Problem (PDF - 1,545 KB)
Young, Gardner, Otero, Dennis, Chang, Earle, et al. (2009)
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
Assessed State policy from the broad perspective of prevention, intervention, identification, and treatment of prenatal substance exposure, including immediate and ongoing services for the infant, the mother, and the family.
Substance Use Disorders in Child Welfare: What Works for Children and Families: Congressional Briefing (PDF - 172 KB)
Children and Family Futures (2013)
Presents recommendations for meeting the substance abuse and mental health treatment needs of families involved in the child welfare system.
Therapeutic Services for Children Whose Parents Receive Substance Use Disorder (SUD) Treatment (PDF - 381 KB)
Mandell & Carmona (2011)
Identifies policies and practices that States have implemented that offer high-quality services for children whose parents enter treatment for substance use disorders (SUDs). This study also describes the ways that Single State Agencies for Alcohol and Drugs and SUD treatment providers are able to collaborate with other agencies to provide cost-effective services to children whose parents enter SUD treatment.
Trying to Come Home: Substance Exposed Infants, Mothers, and Family Reunification
Huang & Ryan (2011)
Children and Youth Services Review, 33(2)
Focuses on the relationship between specific treatment modalities, recovery from substance abuse, and family reunification.
1 National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2011). Prenatal exposure to drugs of abuse—May 2011. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/health-consequences-drug-misuse/prenatal-effects