Profile of infants born to drug-using mothers: A state-wide audit

Authors

  • Mohamed E Abdel-Latif,

    1. Department of Neonatology, The Canberra Hospital
    2. School of Clinical Medicine, Division of Women and Children's Health, Australian National University, Garran, Australian Capital Territory
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  • Julee Oei,

    1. Department of Newborn Care, Royal Hospital for Women, Randwick
    2. School of Women's and Children's Health, University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
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  • Fiona Craig,

    1. Department of Newborn Care, Royal Hospital for Women, Randwick
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  • Kei Lui,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Newborn Care, Royal Hospital for Women, Randwick
    2. School of Women's and Children's Health, University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
      Associate Professor Kei Lui, Department of Newborn Care, Royal Hospital for Women, Barker Street, Randwick, NSW 2031, Australia. Fax: +61 2 9382 6191; email: kei.lui@sesiahs.health.nsw.gov.au
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  • NSW and ACT NAS Epidemiology Group


  • Declaration: The authors have indicated they have no financial relationships relevant to this article to disclose.

  • Competing interests: None declared.

Associate Professor Kei Lui, Department of Newborn Care, Royal Hospital for Women, Barker Street, Randwick, NSW 2031, Australia. Fax: +61 2 9382 6191; email: kei.lui@sesiahs.health.nsw.gov.au

Abstract

Aims:  To ascertain the characteristics and short-term outcomes of infants born to illicit drug-using mothers in public hospitals in the state of New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory during 2004.

Methods:  Patients were identified retrospectively by hospital records searches using ICD-10 morbidity codes and records of local Drug and Alcohol Services. Records were reviewed on site. All public hospitals (n= 101) with obstetric services were included.

Results:  A total of 879 (1.4%, 95% confidence interval: 1.3–1.5%) drug-using mothers were identified from 62 682 confinements. Opiates (46.8%), amphetamines (23.0%) and polydrug (16.4%) exposure were most common. There were eight stillbirths. Among these 871 infants, prematurity (23.6%) and low birthweight (27.1%) were common and 51.1% were admitted to nurseries for further care. Two infants died. Major congenital anomalies were detected in 15 infants. Pharmacological treatment for withdrawal was required for 202 (23.2%), and 143 (70.8%) infants were discharged home on medication. Infants who completed inpatient pharmacological treatment were hospitalised longer (median 26.0 vs. 12.0 days) and were more likely to be premature (37.3 vs. 14.0%). Child-at-risk notifications affected 40.6% of the infants, and 7.6% were fostered prior to discharge. A total of 333 (38.2%) infants were breastfed at discharge.

Conclusions:  Our regional study highlights a substantial prevalence of drug use in pregnancy with considerable adverse perinatal and hospital outcomes in infants born to these mothers. Coordinated health care and resources are needed to support these mother–infant pairs because of their social, medical and mental-health issues.

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