Prenatal exposure to substances can have long lasting effects on a developing baby. 

Substance use during pregnancy is a complex issue. Confidential treatment and support are available for women and their families.  State and federal Law both address prenatal substance exposure as a key issue for giving babies the healthiest start possible.  We prioritize prevention, identification, and treatment - for women and their babies. 

Looking for more information, resources, or support? Visit Smart Choices Safe Kids or view additional information on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, Marijuana Use During Pregnancy, & Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome


Colorado Substance Exposed Newborns Steering Committee

The Colorado SEN Steering Committee was established in 2008, as a subcommittee of the Colorado Substance Abuse Trend and Response Task Force. The steering committee's mission is to identify and implement strategies for reducing the number of families impacted by substance use during pregnancy in Colorado and for improving outcomes for impacted women, children, and families across the lifespan.

Current Priorities of the SEN Steering Committee include:

  • Promoting community-based strategies to meeting the CAPTA/CARA requirement regarding plans of safe care for infants and caregivers

  • Increasing consistency in implementation of best practice approaches in the identification of and response to newborns prenatally exposed to substances and their caregivers at the time of birth across Colorado

  • Expanding provider education on related issues such as screening every pregnant woman with a validated screening tool in prenatal, hospital and postpartum settings

  • Developing and pursuing a state policy agenda including access to treatment, barriers to engagement, SBIRT promotion, and other issues

  • Assessing need for increased FASD identification/clinical diagnostic capacity in the state and develop an expansion plan

  • Increasing statewide data, research, and quality improvement capacity in order to inform our work and to share successes and challenges

Starting in 2018, work groups will be meeting to drive forward each priority area. If you are interested in joining a work group or nominate someone to participate, contact Jillian Adams.


Colorado Substance Exposed Newborns Hospital Learning Collaborative

The Colorado SEN Hospital Learning Collaborative was established in 2016, as a project of the Colorado SEN Steering Committee. By bringing together hospital staff across units, professions, and health systems, the Learning Collaborative aims to increase consistency in implementation of best practice approaches in the identification of and response to newborns prenatally exposed to substances and their caregivers at the time of birth across Colorado. 

Illuminate is excited to share that another round of the collaborative will begin in 2018--including prenatal providers. If you are interested in joining this next round, contact Jillian Adams.


Educational Offerings

Interventions & Educational Considerations for Children with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders

Interventions & Educational Considerations for Children with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders is a full day training presented by Eileen Bisgard, JD, Founder of NOFAS Colorado & Heather Hotchkiss, Brain Injury Specialist with the Colorado Department of Education. Learn more...

Impacts & Implications of Prenatal Substance Exposure

Offered through the Colorado Child Welfare Training System, Impacts & Implications of Prenatal Substance Exposure is a one day course designed to increase understanding of the impacts of prenatal exposure to substances on a fetus, an infant, a child, and an adolescent. Learn more... 

Serving Families Impacted by Prenatal Substance Exposure: Overview & Recommendations

This course can be offered in either 2 or 4 hours and is designed for professionals interested in learning more about the effects of prenatal exposure to alcohol or other drugs, the short and long term concerns of parental substance use and abuse, and recommendations for supporting children and families affected by this issue.


Legislative Priority Areas

In 2012, the SEN Steering Committee with support from the Substance Abuse Trend and Response Task Force worked with Representative Summers and Senator Aguilar to pass House Bill 12-1100. This bill prohibits information obtained during a drug screen or test performed during a determination of pregnancy or as part of prenatal care for a pregnant woman from being admissible in criminal proceedings. Meaning a pregnant women can disclose her substance use to her prenatal care provider without fear of being criminally prosecuted. When a woman receives both prenatal care and substance abuse treatment during pregnancy, the health outcomes for both her and her baby drastically improve.

Illuminate Colorado, and members of the Substance Exposed Newborns Steering Committee, are hoping to pass complementary legislation on this issue in the future to expand access to treatment without fear of criminal prosecution for women that are immediately postpartum. The time period immediately after birth, when a baby has tested positive for a substance and the child protection system is becoming involved, is a point of high motivation for a woman with a substance use disorder to seek treatment and support. Currently, funding streams for women to access certain kinds of substance use treatment, are limited to women that are identified before the baby is born, though the services extend through the baby's first birthday. The SEN Committee is working to allow women within 30 days after giving birth to qualify for these federal funding streams to access needed substance use treatment and support services.



Jordan Smith, Strategic Initiatives Associate