Public Health



El Dorado County health officials are concerned about the growing number of babies born to mothers who abuse substances in the county. To raise awareness about the problem and highlight possible solutions, a local Perinatal Substance Abuse Conference was held on September 10, 2015, in South Lake Tahoe and September 11, 2015, in Placerville. Over 190 people attended, including local community leaders, health and social work professionals, teachers and other concerned individuals.

"It is heartbreaking to see babies born with drugs in their systems," said Lynnan Svensson, nursing manager with the El Dorado County Health and Human Services Agency. "While many of these babies can recover, some will sadly suffer from significant and permanent damage."

According to Svensson, systems and collaborative relationships with health care and treatment providers in El Dorado County are currently in place to identify and help substance exposed babies and their mothers, but more can be done. "Our goal is to continue to raise awareness and expand our systems so that we can find and help these mothers earlier in their pregnancies," said Svensson.

The Perinatal Substance Abuse Conference focused on developing a knowledge base for those who work with pregnant and parenting women who abuse substances. Another key goal was to establish a universal approach to working with the women that includes acknowledging and treating past traumas the women may have experienced in order to start addressing their addiction.

In addition to the conference, a physician's educational event on substance use and breastfeeding was also conducted on September 10, 2015 at Marshall Hospital. Both the conference and the physician's educational event were sponsored by the El Dorado County Health and Human Services Agency, El Dorado County Child Abuse Prevention Council and the Breastfeeding Coalition of El Dorado County.

For more information about local resources and efforts to help pregnant and parenting women who are struggling with drugs, contact the El Dorado County Maternal, Child, and Adolescent Health (MCAH) Program at (530) 621-6108.

# # #