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Perinatal Substance Use Prevention Fact Sheet

MO-07-0143 PSU


  • Promote screening, assessment, and referral to appropriate treatment for perinatal substance use among local Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health (MCAH) programs and primary health care providers.


  • Substance use among women, particularly among women of childbearing age, is an important public health issue due to potential adverse pregnancy outcomes.  Applying national estimates of prevalence, approximately 69,000 infants were born substance-exposed in California in 2000, or about 11.4% of all births (Vega 1993).
  • In the U.S., there are approximately 0.5 to 2.0 cases of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome per 1,000 live births and an estimated 10 cases of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) per 1,000 live births.
  • About 1 in 6 California women (15 years and older) who gave birth in 2006 reported consuming alcohol during the first or third trimester of pregnancy (California Maternal and Infant Health Assessment, 2006 data).
  • 1 in 10 California women (15 years and older) who gave birth in 2006 reported binge drinking at least once during their pregnancy, including the time period before they knew they were pregnant (California Maternal and Infant Health Assessment, 2006 data).

Program Activities

  • The MCAH Program’s efforts related to perinatal substance use prevention are conducted through partnerships and collaboration.  MCAH representatives participate in the:
    • California FASD Task Force, an independent, public-private partnership of parents and professionals from various disciplines committed to improving the lives of Californians affected by FASD and eliminating alcohol use during pregnancy.  Led by the Arc of California, the goal of the task force is to advance the effective prevention and treatment of FASD.
    • State Interagency Team Workgroup on Alcohol and Other Drugs, composed of members from the Departments of Public Health (MCAH), Social Services, Mental Health, Education, Developmental Services and Alcohol and Drug Programs (lead).  The goal of the workgroup is to identify interagency and systems issues that, if addressed, could improve identification and treatment of families and children impacted by alcohol and other drugs.
  • Local MCAH jurisdictions have identified perinatal substance use prevention as a priority.  They have engaged in community mobilization and capacity building, and implemented screening, assessment, and referral to treatment programs that address their particular needs.

Who Benefits

  • Women of childbearing age and pregnant women at risk for unfavorable birth outcomes due to perinatal substance use and their infants.
  • All Californians, since healthy women and infants incur fewer health care expenses.


  • There are no dedicated funds within MCAH for perinatal substance use prevention activities.  However, we collaborate with local MCAH jurisdictions, public and private partners and organizations in perinatal substance use prevention efforts.  For more information, please see the Perinatal Substance Use web page.
    Last modified on: 9/17/2008 2:01 PM