Report Calls for Changes to Orange County Services for Pregnant Women Who Use Alcohol, Illicit Drugs
Orange County should overhaul its system of addressing substance-abuse problems among pregnant women, in part because the current system is based on outdated information, according to a county grand jury report released on Monday, the Los Angeles Times reports. According to the grand jury report, "The demographics of the county have changed, and ... the drugs of choice have changed" since the data was collected in 1992.
Because the data is outdated, "the current incidence of in utero substance-exposed children is unknown," the report said.
Several recent studies cited by the grand jury show children exposed in utero to illicit drugs, alcohol and tobacco are at increased risk of low birthweight, learning and developmental disabilities, mental retardation, poor reasoning and judgment skills, sudden infant death syndrome and other conditions.
The report said the county Health Care Agency should conduct a comprehensive study of prenatal substance abuse to replace the 1992 study. The report also recommended:
- Additional staff to provide prenatal services at county health and social services agencies;
- Formation of a steering committee to help provide information on prenatal substance abuse to county agencies, departments and contract firms;
- Creation of health care facilities for pregnant women with a substance-abuse problem in south Orange County; and
- A redesign of the Health Care Agency Web site to improve accessibility (Haldane, Los Angeles Times, 6/7).