Study looks at drug rehab and pregnancy

June 26, 2008 6:09:55 PM PDT
A new study by Kaiser Permanente is suggesting that the effects of drugs and alcohol on pregnancy can be largely prevented if mothers get treatment right way.

Seeing Yadira Gonzales with her newborn son Omar, it's hard to imagine that drug use could have jeopardized her pregnancy.

"I was smoking marijuana, you know, the usual things that people start with and then I moved on to cocaine," says Yadira. "I was going through a lot with turning 18 and I wanted to party. I knew that I wanted a baby, but I knew i that at the same time I could get into clubs and do more."

But while still in her first trimester, Yadira's mom convinced her to join a program offered by Kaiser Permanente to thousands of pregnant women called Early Start. Women who test positive for drugs or alcohol are offered immediate substance abuse services and support through their entire pregnancy.

"We saw methamphetamine use, smoking use, heroin use, marijuana use and alcohol. So what this allowed the therapists to do is we could make referral to programs such as chem dependency programs, psychiatry programs, outside agencies, some women may have to enroll in a rehab situation," says Dr. Nancy Goler who directs the program.

In fact, a new study released by Kaiser found that substance abusers who chose to go it on their own during pregnancy had twice the risk of premature birth and 16 times the number of still births.

You might expect to see a dramatic difference between drug and alcohol abusers users who went into the program versus who refused. However, researchers were particularly encouraged by how often intervention resulted in near-normal pregnancies.

"We actually had wonderful results for that and it's one of the things we're very proud of. We had no statistical difference between pre-term deliveries, placental abruptions and stillborns between the women who were treated and our control group," says Dr. Goler. "If you find out that you're pregnant it is not too late to stop and ask for help."

Yadira was one of those moms. Despite drug use in early pregnancy, Omar was born completely healthy. And while she still continues in the program to help stay away from drugs, Yadira says she spends less time now thinking of her past and far more dreaming about her son's future.

"Whatever he wants to be, I'm going to back him up and hopefully I will make him very happy like he has made me," says Yadira.

The pregnancy study was the largest of its kind and looked at the cases of nearly 50,000 women.


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