ABSTRACT

Maternal illicit drug use remains common – around 14% of women aged 16–34 years in England and Wales have used cannabis in a year, 4.5% cocaine, 3% ecstasy and 2% amphetamines. Substance abuse during pregnancy has effects on the health of the mother, the pregnancy, the fetus and the newborn infant. In addition there are associations between drug addiction, alcohol misuse, HIV, hepatitis B/C infection, unemployment/poverty, squalid accommodation, parental imprisonment and social isolation, all of which present a threat to babies cared for by these chaotic families.