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Complex calculations: How drug use during pregnancy becomes a barrier to prenatal care

Roberts, S.C.M. and Pies, C – 2011

This study examines how drug use during pregnancy can negatively affect women’s utilization of prenatal care. Discusses the problem of lack of prenatal care for drug-using pregnant women, noting such barriers as lack of health insurance and transportation and fear of legal repercussions and child welfare involvement. Study examined a group of substance-using women in California to determine utilization of prenatal care. Barriers to care were often financial or bureaucratic in nature. Women also cited lack of social support. Many expressed guilt over avoiding prenatal care because of their drug use, often using more drugs to ease anxiety. Participants also expressed fear that receiving prenatal care would lead to CPS involvement and removal of the baby. Authors note that drug-using women experience many of the same financial barriers as low-income women, but have additional risk factors that contribute to avoidance of prenatal care, such as social isolation and fear of CPS reports. Suggests that interventions should address these concerns and make utilization of prenatal care easier and less bureaucratic.