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Repercussions of Positive Drug Tests in Newborns

Repercussions of Positive Drug Tests in NewbornsDrug testing is not legally enforced in all states or regions of the U.S. Some facilities do perform drug tests or toxicology screenings on all newborns and others may perform these tests if there are any signs of a woman using drugs during her pregnancy. Because there are not federal laws regarding newborn drug testing, the repercussions of positive drug tests in newborns will vary in different states and counties.

A positive drug test for a newborn can lead to many, very serious, repercussions. In some states, like Alaska, Arizona, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Oklahoma, Utah, Rhode Island, and Virginia, healthcare providers are required to report prenatal drug use or drug exposure which can lead to testing and serve as evidence in child welfare proceedings. While there are very few states yet to use prenatal substance abuse as a criminal act of child abuse and neglect, there are many states who believe prenatal substance abuse during pregnancy is grounds for civil charges of child abuse and neglect. Parents can lose their parental custody rights and be guilty of civil acts of child abuse and neglect. Some states, like Texas, believe prenatal substance abuse is a felony and parents can serve hefty jail time. Other states have policies that enforce admission to a drug treatment center for women with newborns who have tested positive for drugs.

The Real Consequences of Positive Drug Tests in Newborns

Losing one’s parenting rights and facing civil charges are minor consequences of prenatal drug use and positive drug tests among newborns. The real consequences are the many adverse effects that substance abuse has on the infant. Prenatal drug use puts the unborn child at great risk while in the mother’s womb, during the birthing process, and after birth, for the rest of the child’s life.

It is not just “hard” or illicit drugs that pose great risk to a child’s health and development, even over-the-counter substances can do great harm. Even “legal” or medicinally-legal drugs like alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana are incredibly hazardous to the health of an unborn child. Prenatal substance abuse can cause an unlimited amount of damage, with some of the most common results being:

  • Premature birth, low birth weight
  • Spontaneous abortion or miscarriage
  • Heart problems
  • Physical birth defects
  • SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome)
  • Brain damage
  • Abnormal cognitive and behavioral development
  • Feeding problems
  • Sleep troubles
  • Neonatal withdrawal syndrome

Help Ending Drug Use in Pregnant Women

Your drug abuse impacts and harms more than just your own health and wellbeing, it affects the lives of everyone else in your life, from siblings to coworkers. This is especially true if you are, or planning to be pregnant. The damage caused by a single act of drug abuse can significantly affect a child the rest of his life. To prevent the harms of your drug use from impacting the future of your child, you have to stop using, and we can help.

If you’re looking for help ending your drug use, please call our toll-free helpline today. Our trained addiction counselors are available 24 hours a day to assist you with your search for drug abuse and addiction treatment and recovery help. Whether you have questions, need information or are ready to find treatment now, we can help.

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