n Child Abuse Research in South Africa - An exploration of the scope and impact of prenatal substance abuse in Mitchell's Plain, Western Cape

Volume 16, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1562-1383



Maternal alcohol and drug abuse remains a multifaceted, major social problem with far-reaching global intergenerational consequences with figures indicating that 20% of the 1 million persons living in the "Cape Flats" are methamphetamine users. Prenatal substance abuse has serious consequences for both the mother and the new born child. Impediments may include acute neonatal abstinence syndrome, other neurobehavioral effects, potential congenital malformations, low birth weight for gestational age (intrauterine growth restriction), prematurity, and long-term adverse effects on growth and development. This research initiative aims to explore the scope and impact of prenatal drug abuse in the Mitchell's Plain community and looks at the risk of prenatal substance abuse and developmental and behavioural problems in the children. The objectives of the study are to explore the socio-demographic environment of women who abused illegal drugs and other harmful substances and assess the nature of prenatal substance abuse. It also looks at the extent to which new born babies of the participants presented physical conditions associated with prenatal substance abuse. The complex relationship between psychoactive drugs and neonatal outcomes for the offspring, especially poly-drug use, and structural brain abnormalities, motor and cognitive abnormalities, as well as cognitive and behavioural problems still requires much research. Results of the study are reported in this article.

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