The use of illegal drugs is becoming increasingly common and presents particular problems in pregnancy. There is strong evidence to suggest that improvements in obstetric and neonatal outcomes can be made by attempts to treat the substance misuse problem, although this group may have limited engagement with traditional medical services. We conducted a retrospective case note review of a specialist ‘mother and baby team’ within a drug misuse treatment service to determine whether it had achieved its original service aims.
There was a high level of engagement with the service, with the majority of cases staying in contact for over 20 weeks. The average dose of methadone fell during the course of the pregnancies, and at the time of delivery, only 20 of the 80 cases (25%) still in contact with the service had urine tests that were positive for heroin. A significant number of women managed to completely detoxify from all drugs by the point of delivery, in contrast with previous studies conducted with this patient population.
This study demonstrates that the specialist service for pregnant drug users has been effective in engaging those misusing drugs in treatment, leading to significant improvements in key outcome measures.
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