Postnatal home visiting for illicit drug-using mothers and their infants: A randomised controlled trial

A. Bartu, J. Sharp, J. Ludlow, Dorota Doherty

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    36 Citations (Scopus)


    Background: Postnatal home-visiting programs for illicit drug-using mothers have reported some success in reducing harms in some areas but there is a lack of data on their impact on breastfeeding and immunisation rates.Aims: To investigate the effect on breastfeeding, immunisation and parental drug use. The hypothesis was that the outcomes of the home-visiting group (HVG) would be superior to the control group (CG).Method: One hundred and fifty-two illicit drug-using women were recruited at 35-40 weeks gestation from King Edward Memorial Hospital, Perth, Western Australia and randomised after delivery to the HVG or the CG. The HVG had eight home visits; the CG had telephone contact at two months and a home visit at six months. The HVG received education and support for parenting, breastfeeding and child development. This was not provided by the research midwives for the CG.Results: The main drugs were heroin, amphetamines, cannabis and benzodiazepines. Immunisation rates were similar for each group. Median duration of breastfeeding for the HVG was eight weeks (95% CI, 3.8-12.2); for the CG ten weeks (95% CI, 7.3-12.7). Drug use was reduced during pregnancy but increased by six months post-partum in both groups. The retention rates were: HVG 93%; CG 86%.Conclusion: The hypothesis for this study was not supported. Long-term studies are urgently required to assess the effects of parental drug use on infant and child development.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)419-426
    JournalAustralian and New Zealand Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - 2006


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