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MCH-026: Alcohol, Tobacco, Drug Abuse and Pregnancy

Alcohol, Tobacco, Drug Abuse and Pregnancy: The Wisconsin Medical Society (Society) recognizes the severe impact that perinatal use of alcohol, tobacco, prescription opioids and illegal drugs may have upon the health of both mothers and infants. The Society believes that physicians should routinely provide, at a minimum, a historical screen for all pregnant women, and those of childbearing age, for substance abuse and to follow up positive screens with appropriate counseling, interventions and referrals.

The Society further supports policy elements:

  • That oppose legislation that criminalizes maternal drug and alcohol addiction, or involves physicians in evidence gathering for law enforcement and prosecution purposes rather than in providing treatment.
  • That forewarn the U.S. government and the public at large that there are extremely serious implications of drug addiction during pregnancy and there is a pressing need for adequate maternal drug treatment and family supportive child protective services.
  • That support rigorous scientific research on the developmental consequences of perinatal exposure, and identify appropriate methodologies for early intervention with perinatally exposed children.
  • That encourage close monitoring of the infant after birth by a clinician experienced in perinatal withdrawal symptoms and appropriate, evidence-based treatment for neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS).
  • That support requiring retailers to prominently display a sign on the retailer’s premises warning pregnant women that they should not drink alcoholic beverages, smoke tobacco or other drugs, or engage in the non-medical use of drugs given adverse effects on fetal development, and warning men of the potential adverse effects on male fertility and on offspring of smoking, alcohol use, and non-medical use of drugs.
  • That encourage the government to expand the proportion of funds allocated to drug treatment, prevention and education. In particular, support is crucial for establishing and making broadly available specialized treatment programs for drug-addicted pregnant women wherever possible. (HOD, 0416)