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A prenatal intervention program, for stopping substance use in pregnancy, could save almost $2 billion annually if it were implemented nationwide, a new study suggests.

The Kaiser Permanente Early Start program helps women at risk of substance abuse to achieve health outcomes for mothers and babies that are similar to women who do not use cigarettes, alcohol or drugs, Medical News Today reports. The study of almost 50,000 women found the program decreases illness in mothers and their babies, as well as stillbirths.

“Now, we’re able to show everyone that not only is it the right thing to do, we will save money,” lead author Nancy C. Goler, MD, said in a news release. “This program is a very low-technology intervention that has an enormous net cost savings.”

The program screens pregnant women with urine tests and substance abuse screening questionnaires. It is located in the same clinic where women receive their prenatal care, and a licensed substance abuse expert sees patients at the same time as their prenatal care appointments. All health care providers and patients in the program are educated about the effects of alcohol, drug and cigarette use during pregnancy.

The findings are published in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology.


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