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African-American Mothers More Likely To Be Tested For Drugs, Study Says

Thursday, 12 April 2007

New York, NY:  African-American women and their newborns are more likely to be drug tested than are other women, even after controlling for sociodemographic and clinical factors, according to a study published in the current issue of the Journal of Women's Health.
              
Investigators at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City analyzed factors associated with the decision to drug test women with live births over a one-year period in a single hospital.  Of the 8,487 mothers, 244 mother-newborn pairs (three percent) were tested for illegal drugs. Researchers reported that "black women and their newborns were 1.5 times more likely to be tested for illicit drugs as non-black women," after controlling for obstetrical conditions and sociodemographic factors, such as single marital status or a lack of health insurance.
            
"There was no association between race and a positive toxicology result," investigators determined.
            
In many states, mothers who test positive for cannabis during or prior to childbirth can lose custody of their child and/or face criminal charges.
            
A 1990 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine reported that African-American mothers who tested positive for illicit drugs were ten times more likely to be reported to child protective services than white and Hispanic counterparts.
            
For more information, please contact Paul Armentano, NORML Senior Policy Analyst, at paul@norml.org.  Full text of the study, "The effect of race on provider decisions to test for illicit drug use in the peripartum setting," appears in the Journal of Women's Health.



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