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Patterns in Substance Abuse Admits for Pregnant Teens Shift

Admissions for marijuana, meth abuse increase; racial makeup of those admitted also changes

THURSDAY, July 1 (HealthDay News) -- Between 1992 and 2007, there was a substantial increase in the proportion of pregnant teens admitted for treatment of marijuana and methamphetamine abuse -- though the proportion of admissions for alcohol abuse declined over that time period; and admissions are up among Hispanic pregnant teens and down among black and non-Hispanic white pregnant teens, according to a report issued June 28 by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

The report is based on data from the 1992 to 2007 Treatment Episode Data Set, a nationwide reporting system of substance abuse centers. According to the report, the proportion of overall substance abuse treatment admissions for pregnant teens remained about 4 percent from 1992 to 2007. However, in 1992, alcohol was the most commonly abused drug leading to admission, representing 44.1 percent of pregnant teen admissions; in 2007 that percentage had dropped to 20.3 percent. The proportion of admissions for marijuana abuse more than doubled between 1992 and 2007 -- from 19.3 to 45.9 percent -- while the proportions of admissions for methamphetamine use more than quadrupled -- from 4.3 to 18.8 percent.

In addition, significant differences occurred in admission rates between racial and ethnic groups, according to the report. Admission for non-Hispanic white teens declined (from 54.5 to 50.3 percent), as did admission for non-Hispanic black teens (from 24.0 to 14.7 percent); however, admissions of Hispanic teens increased from 15.7 percent to 21.4 percent.

"Treatment is essential in assisting young women to address their substance use problems before giving birth to a child, especially because these substances may seriously compromise a child's physical, cognitive, and emotional development," SAMHSA administrator, Pamela S. Hyde, J.D., said in a statement. "These findings will help develop better prevention and treatment programs for young women, and potentially free many from the grip of this enormous public health problem."

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