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Do Florida Hospitals Drug Test Newborns?

Performing a drug test on a newborn baby may seem like a strange, invasive process, however, identifying whether a newborn has been exposed to illicit substances can alert doctors of problems that may occur during delivery and the first days of life. This knowledge can help doctors provide the proper care to babies who are born addicted to drugs–particularly those who are born experiencing withdrawal symptoms.

Laws regarding substance abuse vary from state to state. In Florida, substance abuse during pregnancy is not considered a crime on its own, and there are no laws or requirements that force women or newborns to get drug tested in Florida hospitals. However, this does happen, and women have been prosecuted in terms of child abuse as a result of their substance use during pregnancy.

How Common is Substance Abuse During Pregnancy?

A mother’s natural instinct is to protect her baby. Still, addiction is a complex disease, and it can make people do things they wouldn’t normally do. Women who find out they are pregnant while they are addicted to drugs or alcohol may be unable to stop using substances without professional help. Unfortunately, pregnant women are often hesitant to ask for help because they are afraid of the repercussions. 

What will happen if the state finds out they have been using drugs while pregnant? Will they charge the woman with a crime or take her baby away from her? These are all real concerns addicted pregnant women have that may stop them from being honest about their substance abuse. Mothers may also wonder whether or not hospitals in their state drug test newborns after birth, but this is rare unless under special circumstances.

Research reported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) claims that about 5% of pregnant women use one or more addictive substances.

How Newborns are Affected by Substance Abuse During Pregnancy?

Regular substance abuse can have devastating effects on a newborn baby, some of which can last a lifetime. 

Many illicit and prescription drugs can cause neonatal abstinence syndrome, a condition in which the baby goes through withdrawal upon being born. Substances like prescription opioids, heroin, benzodiazepines, alcohol, barbiturates, and even caffeine can cause infants to have withdrawal symptoms at birth. The type and severity of an infant’s withdrawal symptoms depend on what drug was used, for how long, and at what point in the pregnancy the drug abuse began.

Drug and alcohol abuse during pregnancy can also increase the risk of:

  • Miscarriage
  • Stillbirth
  • Low birth weight
  • Birth defects
  • Cognitive defects
  • Small head circumference
  • Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)

Drug testing mothers during pregnancy or newborns during birth in the hospital can help healthcare providers anticipate potential issues that may be experienced during or after birth.

Do Florida Hospitals Drug Test Newborns?

There are very few instances during which Florida hospitals would drug test a newborn baby or the mother. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), universal drug testing for newborns is not practical for clinicians or recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Some states have laws that require healthcare providers to report to the state if they suspect that a woman is using drugs during her pregnancy, but Florida has no such laws.

Florida state law does consider drug abuse during pregnancy to be child abuse, a crime that women can be prosecuted for if there is evidence. Although women may be charged with child abuse if they use drugs during pregnancy, they cannot be involuntarily committed to a substance abuse or mental health treatment center. Pregnant women, however, can avoid these complications by seeking help for their addiction as soon as they find out they may be pregnant.

While Florida hospitals do not universally screen pregnant women or newborns for drugs, there are certain instances in which a drug test would be performed. The main instance is if a woman is suspected of drug use or admits to using drugs during pregnancy. In this case, both she and her baby would be screened for drugs.

If the test comes back positive and the hospital believes the baby is in danger, child welfare laws may be violated. In rare cases, the child may be removed from the mother’s custody until reviewed by the law.

Find Support and Treatment for Addiction Today

If you are an expecting mother who struggles with addiction, the best thing you can do for yourself and your baby is to seek treatment as early as possible. Early treatment can improve your health and your baby’s life. Many addiction treatment centers can offer supportive care for addicted mothers, and you shouldn’t be scared to ask for help.

The compassionate admissions coordinators at Mandala Healing Center are available now to verify your insurance, assess your needs, and connect you with the best drug and alcohol rehab center for you. Call now to begin.