Maternal drug abuse history, maltreatment, and functioning in a clinical sample of urban children

Edore C. Onigu-Otite, Harolyn M.E. Belcher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Objective: This study examined the association between maternal drug abuse history, maltreatment exposure, and functioning, in a clinical sample of young children seeking therapy for maltreatment. Methods: Data were collected on 91 children, mean age 5.3. years (SD 1.0). The Preschool and Early Childhood Functional Assessment Scales (PECFAS) was used to measure functional impairment. A child maltreatment exposure (CME) score was developed based on maltreatment history. Data on maternal risk factors including maternal drug abuse (MDA) were obtained. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics and regression modeling. Results: Approximately half (47.3%) of the children had a history of MDA. MDA history was associated with increased odds of neglect (OR = 5.6, 95% CI = 2.2-14.6) and abandonment (OR = 3.3, 95% CI = 1.3-8.3), and decreased odds of sexual abuse (OR = 0.35, 95% CI = 0.2-0.8). There were no statistically significant differences in CME scores for children with MDA history when compared to children without MDA history. Children with MDA history had an increased mean functional impairment score (mean 15 points; 95% CI = 1.3-29.2) compared to children without MDA history. Following adjustment for maltreatment, no difference in impairment score was found. Conclusion: Although MDA history was associated with higher odds of neglect and abandonment, it was not associated with total CME or functional impairment. Adverse socio-environmental experiences associated with urban environments may confer a high risk of CME and functional impairment, irrespective of MDA history. Practice implications: In addition to maternal drug abuse, clinicians working with children need to identify other factors which could place the child at added risk for maltreatment. Further research is needed to better understand the role of adverse socio-environmental experiences on maltreatment and functional impairment in children. This study highlights the need for a multi-disciplinary approach to prevention and intervention programs needed to diminish adverse socio-environmental conditions prevalent in urban environments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)491-497
Number of pages7
JournalChild Abuse and Neglect
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2012


  • Child maltreatment
  • Functional impairment
  • Maternal drug abuse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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