Introduction to Prenatal Substance Exposure

Are you considering adopting or fostering? Or taking in a relative’s child? Do you suspect or know that the birth mom used drugs or alcohol during pregnancy? Join us to learn how these substances might impact the child and how you parent. Our guest is Dr. Lisa Prock, a Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrician, Director of the Developmental Medicine Center at Children’s Hospital, Boston, and Clinical Director of the Translational Neuroscience Center at Harvard Medical School and Children’s Hospital Boston. She is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School.

In this episode, we cover:

  • Foster, adoptive, and kinship parents and caregivers often need to consider whether they are the right family to parent a child with prenatal alcohol and drug exposure.
  • The US government estimates that about 10% of children born in the US have been prenatally exposed to alcohol, drugs, or both. How common is prenatal substance exposure for foster and adoptive children, as well as those kids living with grandparents and other relatives?
  • Are there signs or symptoms with a child that may have been exposed to alcohol and drugs in utero, absent confirmation from the mother?
  • What is known about the amount or timing of alcohol or drug use and the impact on the baby or child?
  • Short-term and long-term impacts of the following substances:
    • Alcohol-does it matter the type of alcohol?
    • Methamphetamines 
    • Adderall, Concerta, Ritalin or other ADHD medication
    • Opiates/opioids-prescription
    • Opioids-illegal
    • Heroin
    • Fentanyl
    • Methadone, Suboxone, Subutex, Buprenorphine
    • Marijuana
    • Ecstasy, inhalants
    • Tobacco-smoking cigarettes or vaping
  • How common is dual exposure/polysubstance exposure—alcohol and drugs?
  • Do children who have been prenatally exposed to alcohol or drugs have a greater risk of abusing drugs in adolescence or adulthood?
  • How do you get a child diagnosed with prenatal substance exposure?
  • What should parents consider when trying to decide if they are the right family for a child with prenatal exposure?
  • Creating a Family’s Prenatal Substance Exposure Trainings for Parents, Daycare/Preschool Teachers, and Afterschool Staff.

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Music Credit: Michael Ashworth

Podcast Producer: Megown SoundWorks

Image Credit: cottonbro studios