October 24, 2016
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Drug Use Up In Pregnant Minority Teens

WASHINGTON - A nationwide report issued by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration ( SAMHSA ) reveals that from 1992 to 2007 there were significant changes in the patterns of substance abuse treatment admissions among pregnant teens both in terms of the kinds of substances involved and among different ethnic and racial groups.  
According to the report, the proportion of pregnant teen admissions for marijuana abuse more than doubled from 19.3 percent in 1992 to 45.9 percent in 2007.  Marijuana has surpassed alcohol as the primary substance of abuse cited in admissions for pregnant teens—alcohol represented 44.1 percent of all pregnant teen admissions in 1992 -- but dropped to 20.3 percent by 2007. In addition, the proportion of pregnant teen admissions for methamphetamine use has more than quadrupled, from 4.3 percent in 1992 to18.8 percent in 2007. 

Based on data from the 1992 to 2007 Treatment Episode Data Set ( TEDS ) -- a nationwide reporting system of substance abuse centers -- the new report examined the characteristics and substance abuse behaviors of pregnant teens in substance abuse treatment. The study was sponsored by SAMHSA as part of its strategic initiative on data, outcomes, and quality – an effort to create integrated data systems that help inform policy makers and providers on behavioral health issues.

The report also shows that although the proportion of substance abuse treatment admissions for pregnant teens remained steady overall from 1992 to 2007 ( 4.7 percent in 1992 versus 4.0 percent in 2007 ), significant differences had occurred in admission rates among certain racial and ethnic groups.  For example, the proportion of pregnant teen admissions that were non-Hispanic White decreased from 54.5 percent in 1992 to 50.3 percent in 2007. Similarly, during the same period, the proportion of these admissions that were non-Hispanic Black decreased from 24.0 to 14.7 percent. On the other hand, the proportion of pregnant teen admissions that were Hispanic increased from 15.7 to 21.4 percent.

“Treatment is essential in assisting young women to address their substance use problems before giving birth to a child, especially because these substances may seriously compromise a child’s physical, cognitive and emotional development,” said SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde, J.D.  “These findings will help develop better prevention and treatment programs for young women and potentially free many from the grip of this enormous public health problem.”

The report also noted that in both 1992 and 2007, almost one in six pregnant teen admissions had at least two prior treatment admissions ( 15.6 and 15.7 percent, respectively ). 

Pregnant Teen Admissions to Substance Abuse Treatment: 1992 and 2007 is available at
http://www.oas.samhsa.gov/2k10/228/228PregnantAdmits2k10.htm , or by calling SAMHSA’s Health Information Network at 1-877-SAMHSA-7 ( 1-877-726-4727 ). 


The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is the United States government's principal agency for protecting the health of all Americans and providing essential human services, especially for those who are least able to help themselves.

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