Adverse birth outcomes associated with homelessness and substance abuse

09/09/05

Access to prenatal care is difficult for homeless women who in addition to being homeless are exposed to poverty, may be undernourished and be exposed to street drugs, alcohol and violence. Pregnancy among these women is not uncommon.

Merry Little and colleagues assessed the perinatal health of infants born of mothers who were homeless or underhoused or had substance abuse. Compared to women without these problems women who were underhoused or homeless were 2.9 times more likely to have a pre-term delivery, 6.9 times more likely to give birth to an infant who weighed less than 2000 grams and 3.3 times more likely to have a newborn small for gestational age, even after adjustment for (taking into account) known risks factors such a age of the mother, number of previous pregnancies and tobacco smoking.

Pregnant women who are underhoused, homeless or suffer from substance abuse are at very high risk for having an adverse perinatal outcome that compromises the health of their infant.

Source: Eurekalert & others

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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