Pubdate: Fri, 18 Jan 2013
Source: Desert Dispatch, The (Victorville, CA)
Copyright: 2013 Freedom Communications, Inc.
Author: Brooke Self, Staff Writer


About 10 Percent Of Pregnant Women Are Drug Abusers

BARSTOW  Barstow Community Hospital staff are trained to detect drug
abuse among pregnant women, which is important since between 10 and 12
percent of mothers admitted have a drug addiction, with the most
prevalent drug being methamphetamine, according to Obstetrics Nurse
Lauren Stapp.

"It's a significant concern because when we find mothers who have a
drug dependency it has a major impact on the pregnancy," OB Director
Susan Wooley said. "For instance, cocaine addiction causes premature
delivery and it can affect the baby's development."

The hospital has a contractual agreement with Pomona Valley Hospital
for transportation and care of high-risk and preterm babies as Barstow
Community doesn't have a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

"We need a little more resources in the community because of
transportation problems," Stapp said.

According to Wooley, when a mother comes in and shows signs of drug
abuse the hospital must first do a drug screening. If the drug
screening is positive, it is reported to Child Family Services.

"We are required by law as a health care provider to report it,"
Wooley said. "But in the process, we do everything we can to provide
the support to assist them and help them get on their feet."

While substance abuse is a major concern of hospital staff, a baby's
health and keeping families together are two of their top priorities
she said.

"Don't judge. We want patients to feel safe and let them know we want
to help them," according to several nurses at a meeting discussing
perinatal substance abuse at the Family Follow-up Center on Thursday.

Any kind of addiction is problematic because of the social and
economic impact it could have on the baby, according to Wooley.

"When they are spending all of their money on their addiction, the
little discretionary that they have, it limits the resources they have
to provide for their family and children," she said.

In certain cases where there is not a good home environment or the
mother doesn't have a support network, a baby is taken into protective
custody like foster care while hospital staff try to do their best to
rehabilitate the mother and get the baby back home.

"It's not uncommon for a baby to be permitted to go home and
particularly if its the first child," she said, "if the family is in a
home with the essential services like electricity, water and food. But
that decision is not ours to make."

Case workers from Child Family Services, formerly known as Child
Protective Services, work with the mothers on a case by case basis.
About one out of three births by drug abusers doesn't go home, Stapp

"It just kind of depends on the situation," she said.
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