Prenatal substance use policies and newborn health
Supportive prenatal substance use policies are those in which pregnant people are provided access to treatment or other support programs. Such policies lead to better outcomes for babies: preterm births and low birth weight births both decreased by 2%. Prenatal care also increased in states with supportive policies.
Punitive policies, those that criminalize illicit prenatal substance use or define prenatal substance exposure as child abuse or neglect in child welfare statutes, harm infant health. Such policies led to a 10 to 18% increase in neonatal withdrawal syndrome and a .03 to .04% decline in prenatal care.
Supportive policies should be implemented to improve infant health and outcomes.
Published in Health Economics.