n Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology - Maternal substance abuse in South Africa : an area for concern?

Special Edition 1
  • ISSN : 1012-8093



Both domestic and international research indicates that no conclusive evidence exists that drug abuse during pregnancy has long term harm on the foetus. On the other hand, alcohol has been proven to be the biggest cause of preventable birth defects. This lack of evidence on the possible harm that substance abuse may cause a foetus has resulted in researchers paying less attention to maternal substance abuse and predominantly concentrating on alcohol abuse. This leaves experts and practitioners dealing with pregnant substance abusers in a dilemma. South Africa does not have adequate drug legislation that will empower the latter individuals to intervene and offer treatment to pregnant drug dependants. The Director of Research for SANCA, Dr Dawid Fourie, has expressed the need for research in order to develop a sound foundation for drug policy regarding maternal substance abuse. This article explores areas which need to be researched in order to develop a policy that would be beneficial to pregnant substances abusers and also protect the unborn foetus. This article highlights the need for a model to deal with the pregnant drug dependent and the fact that current South African legislation does not provide for effective measures to make this possible.

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