CT Clearinghouse

Prenatal Substance Exposure

The Substance Exposed Infants (SEI) Initiative, funded by Connecticut Departments of Children and Families and Mental Health & Addiction Services, created a six year plan to improve Connecticut outcomes for healthy births. This initiative is a joint effort to improve the state's prevention of and response to infants and children exposed to substances in utero and ensure needed attention is given to those who struggle with drug and alcohol use disorders using a multifaceted approach to prevention, screening and intervention.

Prenatal substance exposure occurs when a pregnant woman uses alcohol, tobacco and/or  drugs, whether prescribed or not,  at any time during her pregnancy.  Alcohol and other substance use during pregnancy can lead to serious long-lasting consequences for women and infants including miscarriage, still birth, fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) and neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS).

The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) was originally enacted in 1974 and reauthorized in 2010 to include a policy requiring states to implement a notification process to DCF when a baby is born who has been prenatally exposed to substances.  The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) was signed into federal law in 2016, with the aim to address the problem of opioid addiction in the United States and offered amendments to CAPTA.

Recent changes to federal legislation around the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) and Comprehensive Addiction Recovery Act (CARA) have outlined new state mandates requiring data collection around the impact of substance exposed infants and development of plans of safe care nationwide. In CT, effective March 15, 2019, hospitals will be required to submit a notification to the Department of Children and Families at the time of the birth event when an infant is believed to have been substance exposed and/or displays withdrawal symptoms.

For additional information:

                DCF Newborn Notification Portal (https://portal.ct.gov/DCF/CAPTA/HOME )

                DMHAS CAPTA/Plan of Safe Care (https://www.ct.gov/dmhas/cwp/view.asp?q=607226 )

Please see Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD), Opioids & Pregnancy, and Alcohol & Pregnancy for related information.