Drug Exposed Infants:

A Generation at Risk

T-HRD-90-46: Published: Jun 28, 1990. Publicly Released: Jun 28, 1990.

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GAO discussed the growing and costly problem of substance-abusing mothers and their infants. GAO found that: (1) tens and perhaps hundreds of thousands of drug-exposed infants are born each year, but the exact number is unknown because hospitals are not identifying many of them; (2) mothers of drug-exposed infants are more likely to receive little or no prenatal care; (3) drug-exposed infants' health care costs were up to 4 times greater that those for nonexposed infants; (4) some infants remain in hospitals because their parents either are unwilling to care for them or have been determined by child welfare authorities to be unfit to provide care; (5) despite the demonstrated ability of prenatal care and drug treatment to reduce exposure, there is a serious shortage of drug treatment capacity for pregnant women; (6) less than 11 percent of those pregnant women in need receive care; (7) less than 1 percent of federal funds allocated under the federal anti-drug strategy is specifically targeted at drug treatment for women; and (8) the percentage of federal expenditures is even less for drug-addicted pregnant women.