Babies born exposed/affected to substances in Maine

Change Indicator

Why This Indicator Matters

Parental drug addiction is often a causative factor in families being involved in the child protective system. The child's basic needs for food and safety may not be met in households where drug abuse is present.

This data includes babies born exposed or affected by either illicit or prescribed medications. The data for which drug or drugs the baby may be exposed to may become available during 2020. In 2018, at least one hospital, Eastern Maine Medical Center,* reported that in the majority of cases, the babies reported to OCFS as drug exposed/affected are due to the mother's use of either Buprenorphine or Methadone during pregnancy. Pregnant women may be prescribed Methadone or Buprenorphine to treat their addictions to other substances. For the new born baby, treatment of Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome can be inpatient or outpatient and can involve either pharmacologic or non-pharmacologic treatments.

What the data shows
The number of babies born drug exposed/affected peaked in 2016 and declined in 2017, 2018 and 2019. However, preliminary birth data for 2019 suggests that there were approximately 900 fewer total babies born in in 2019 compared to 2018. For this reason, the state rate of babies born substance-affected stayed nearly the same. In 2019, one in 13-14 babies born in Maine was born drug affected. 

In addition, in the latest year, the number of babies born drug exposed/affected exceeded 10% in 8 of Maine's 16 counties.  In 2019,the counties with the highest rate of babies born drug affected were:  Somerset (15.6%), Waldo (12.9%), Piscataquis (12.5%), Aroostook (12.8%), Washington (12.4%) and Knox County (12.1%). Cumberland (2.7%), Sagadahoc (3.7%) and York (5.3%) had the lowest rates.


show more
Data Provided By
Note: Non-consecutive years appear adjacent in the trend line
because one or more years have been deselected.

Definitions: This indicator reflects the number of infants born in Maine where a healthcare provider reported to the Office of Child and Family Services (OCFS) that there was reasonable cause to suspect the baby may be either affected by illegal substance abuse, demonstrating withdrawal symptoms resulting from prenatal exposure (illicit or prescribed), or have fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. This measure potentially excludes instances where the infant was exposed to substances and did not show withdrawal symptoms after birth, instances where the birth of an infant affected by substances was not reported to OCFS, and any other instances in which there were discrepancies between reporters when interpreting the law. The numerator is the number of babies born drug affected and the denominator is the number of births in a calendar year in Maine.

Data Source: Maine Office of Child and Family Services, (OCFS) of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) for the number of  babies born drug exposed/affected in a year. The State of Maine Office of Vital Statistics for the number of births in the same calendar year.

Footnotes: Uploaded January 2020