1997 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse:  Preliminary Results

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It is important to focus on women of childbearing age (age 15-44 in this report) because their substance abuse could affect their children. Because the NHSDA includes questions about pregnancy, it is possible to study substance use among pregnant women. To allow more detailed analyses to be done, data from the 1996 and 1997 NHSDAs were combined, providing a sample of 871 pregnant and 16,508 nonpregnant women age 15-44. The estimates below are average annual estimates for 1996 and 1997.

Reporting of pregnancy by NHSDA respondents appears reasonably accurate, producing an estimate of about 2.4 million pregnant women per year. This is close to the number of pregnant women on a given day that would be expected based on counts of live births from the birth registration system, and estimates of induced abortions and fetal loss rates (Ventura, Taffel, and Mosher 1995).

oOf the 4.1 million women age 15-44 who were current illicit drug users, about 1.4 million (33 percent) had children living with them. 385,000 (9.5 percent of the 4.1 million) women had at least one child under 2 years of age.

oAmong women age 15-44 with no children who were not pregnant, 10.4 percent were current illicit drug users. Only 2.5 percent of pregnant women were current drug users, which suggests that most women may reduce their drug use when they become pregnant. However, women who recently gave birth (have a child under 2 years old, and not pregnant) had a rate of use of 5.5 percent, suggesting that many women resume their drug use after giving birth. Similar patterns are seen for alcohol and cigarette use (Figure 16).

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This page was last updated on February 05, 2009.