Millions of children whose parents are involved in
alcohol or drug use, distribution, manufacturing or cultivation in the United States face an increased risk of a range of health problems, according to a new American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) clinical report in the August 2016 Pediatrics.
Because pediatricians often are the only medical providers interacting with families affected by substance use, they are in a unique position to identify those endangered by this major public health problem, say authors of the report, “Families Affected by Parental Substance Use” (published online July 18).
Children commonly experience
educational delays and later
mental health and
behavioral problems, the report says, whether from toxic effects of exposure to drugs and alcohol or neglect of basic physical and emotional needs by parents or caretakers struggling with substance use disorders. They also are more likely to begin misusing drugs and alcohol themselves.
The AAP encourages pediatricians to include questions about the extent of substance use as part of the routine family assessment during health supervision visits or when clinically indicated, noting that research suggests parents who screen positive for substance use are open to pediatricians presenting them with follow-up options such as community