Research Article|Articles in Press

Disparities in Maternal-Infant Drug Testing, Social Work Assessment, and Custody at 5 Hospitals

Published:February 06, 2023DOI:



      To evaluate for disparities in peripartum toxicology testing among maternal-infant dyads across a hospital network and subsequent child protective services (CPS) involvement.


      Retrospective chart review of 59,425 deliveries at 5 hospitals in Massachusetts between 2016 and 2020. We evaluated associations between maternal characteristics, toxicology testing, and child welfare involvement with disproportionality risk ratios and hierarchical logistical regression.


      Toxicology testing was performed on 1959 (3.3%) dyads. Younger individuals and individuals of color were more likely to be tested for cannabis use or maternal medical complications compared to white non-Hispanic individuals. Among those without a substance use disorder, age <25 (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] 2.81; 95% confidence interval [CI], 2.43–3.26), race and ethnicity (non-Hispanic Black (aOR 1.80; 95% CI, 1.52–2.13), Hispanic (aOR 1.23; 95% CI, 1.05–1.45), mixed race/other (aOR 1.40; 95% CI, 1.04, 1.87), unavailable race (aOR 1.92; 95% CI, 1.32–2.79), and public insurance (Medicaid [aOR 2.61; 95% CI, 2.27–3.00], Medicare [aOR 13.76; 95% CI, 9.99–18.91]) had increased odds of toxicology testing compared to older, white non-Hispanic, and privately insured individuals. The disproportionality ratios in testing were greater than 1.0 for individuals under 25 years old (3.8), Hispanic individuals (1.6), non-Hispanic Black individuals (1.8), individuals of other race (1.2), unavailable race (1.8), and individuals with public insurance (Medicaid 2.6; Medicare 10.6). Among dyads tested, race and ethnicity was not associated with CPS involvement.


      Peripartum toxicology testing is disproportionately performed on non-white, younger, and poorer individuals and their infants, with cannabis use and medical complications prompting testing more often for patients of color than for white non-Hispanic individuals.


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