Perinatal substance use, residential instability, and negative behavioral outcomes among adolescents: Lessons from the maternal lifestyle study

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Both housing instability and prenatal substance use are known risk factors for behavioral problems among adolescents.


The purpose of this study was to investigate the association between residential instability (residential mobility and homelessness) and delinquent behaviors among adolescents enrolled in the maternal lifestyle study (MLS), a 16-year research study that explored short-term and long-term effects of in-utero exposure to cocaine and/or opiates (N = 736). Logistic regression was used to measure the association between housing problems with youth crimes, school delinquency, and substance use at 11, 15, and 16 years of age.


Both high-frequency residential mobility and homelessness were associated with deviant behaviors across the entire sample of children born with in-utero cocaine/opiate exposure and those without.


Psychiatric nursing care of youth should include a comprehensive assessment of residential instability to identify risk and target potential interventions.

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