Prevalence of illicit drug use in pregnant women in a Wisconsin private practice setting

Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2014 Sep;211(3):255.e1-4. doi: 10.1016/j.ajog.2014.03.023. Epub 2014 Mar 13.


Objective: We sought to measure the prevalence of illicit drug use in our obstetric population, to identify the drugs being used, and to determine whether a modified version of the 4Ps Plus screening tool could serve as an initial screen.

Study design: In this prospective study, urine samples of 200 unselected patients presenting for initiation of prenatal care in a Wisconsin private practice were analyzed for evidence of the use of illicit drugs.

Results: Of 200 patients, 26 (13%) had evidence of drugs of abuse in their urine samples. Marijuana (7%) and opioids (6.5%) were the most commonly identified drugs. Adding 5 questions about drug or alcohol use to the obstetric intake questionnaire proved sensitive in identifying patients with high risks of having a positive drug screen.

Conclusion: The rate of drug use in our low-risk population was higher than expected and may reflect increasing rates of drug use across the United States. Enhanced screening should be performed to identify patients using illicit drugs in pregnancy to improve their care. Medical centers and communities may benefit from periodic testing of their community prevalence rates to aid in appropriate care planning.

Keywords: drug screening; illicit drug use; pregnancy; prenatal care.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / epidemiology*
  • Prevalence
  • Prospective Studies
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Wisconsin / epidemiology