Substance Use in the Perinatal Period

Curr Psychiatry Rep. 2015 Nov;17(11):91. doi: 10.1007/s11920-015-0626-5.


Perinatal substance use remains a major public health problem and is associated with a number of deleterious maternal and fetal effects. Polysubstance use in pregnancy is common and can potentiate adverse maternal and fetal outcomes. Tobacco is the most commonly used substance in pregnancy, followed by alcohol and illicit substances. The treatments for perinatal substance use are limited and consist mostly of behavioral and psychosocial interventions. Of these, contingency management has shown the most efficacy. More recently, novel interventions such as progesterone for postpartum cocaine use have shown promise. The purpose of this review is to examine the recent literature on the use of tobacco, alcohol, cannabis, stimulants, and opioids in the perinatal period, their effects on maternal and fetal health, and current treatments.

Keywords: Alcohol; Antenatal; Cannabis; Cocaine; Drug; Marijuana; Methamphetamine; Opiates; Opioid; Perinatal; Postpartum; Pregnancy; Smoking; Stimulant; Tobacco.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Patient Care Management* / methods
  • Patient Care Management* / organization & administration
  • Perinatal Care / methods*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Outcome
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / prevention & control
  • Substance-Related Disorders* / classification
  • Substance-Related Disorders* / epidemiology
  • Substance-Related Disorders* / psychology
  • Substance-Related Disorders* / therapy