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Boston, Massachusetts 02445


The impact of substance-abusing parents on the child welfare system is undeniable. An estimated 40% to 80% of the 3 million children who come to the attention of the child welfare system each year live in families with alcohol and other drug problems. Children born to parents with substance use disorders are three to four times more likely to suffer abuse or neglect. The current standard of care: pregnant women who are being treated for opiate dependence at Boston Medical Center (BMC) receive all their prenatal care in the RESPECT clinic in the BMC Department of Obstetrics. Once the child is born, BMC staff files a report of suspected child abuse and neglect in accordance with the Massachusetts Gen. laws section 51A. The state Department of Children and Families makes a determination regarding the disposition of these families. Medically, most of these children's suffer from narcotic withdrawal and are treated at Boston Medical Center in the patient pediatric unit. Average length of stay for neonatal abstinence syndrome is approximately 21 days. Following treatment for narcotic withdrawal, the infant patients are discharged to follow-up with routine pediatric primary care. Currently, approximately 85% of infants born exposed to narcotics go home with their mothers, the remainder receive substitute care, either with other family member or foster care. This investigation is a randomized controlled trial of RESPECT-Plus, a continuum of promising and/or evidence-based practices that will strengthen family protective factors until the opioid-exposed infant reaches one year of age, thereby preventing child maltreatment. Anticipated outcomes of the intervention include fewer reports of suspected child abuse/neglect, fewer infant days in out-of-home placement in the first year of life, fewer terminations of parental rights and improvements in family functions (e.g. improved basic needs, improved parental resilience).

Study summary:

The two main components of the proposed project are: 1. Project DULCE (Developmental Understanding and Legal Collaboration for Everyone), a child maltreatment prevention program that teaches parenting skills and child development to parents of newborns and also helps them meet their basic needs for food, safe housing, income supports, etc. 2. Parent education in infant soothing techniques, using Harvey Karp's "5 S's" (Swaddling, shushing, side/stomach position, swinging and sucking) and All Babies Cry The two goals and associated objectives for RESPECT-Plus are to demonstrate the value of an integrated care model, RESPECT-Plus, on improving child well-being, safety, and permanency outcomes, and also to bring about significant improvements in family functioning aligned with the five protective factors in the Strengthening Families model (parental resilience, knowledge of parenting and child development, concrete supports, social connections, and child factors). A total of 400 subjects - 200 mothers - will be enrolled into the study and randomized post-partum to receive intervention or standard of care, and followed for 1 year. Their newborns will be subjects in the study.


Inclusion Criteria: 1. Opiate-dependent pregnant women receiving opiate-replacement therapy (methadone or BPH) treatment by licensed provider (mother) 2. Receives prenatal and obstetric care through Boston Medical Center's RESPECT clinic (mother) 3. Due date within 3 months at time of enrollment (Estimated Gestation Age >27 weeks) (mother) 4. 18 years and older (mother) 5. Singleton pregnancy (infant) 6. Intends to deliver at Boston Medical Center (mother) 7. Intends to remain in the Boston area after birth of child (mother) 8. Mother able to provide informed consent (not excluded by RESPECT staff) 9. No serious medical illness in infant such as sepsis, asphyxia, seizures, or respiratory failure (infant) 10. No major congenital abnormalities in infant including genetic syndromes (infant) 11. Gestational age at birth 36 weeks or greater defined by obstetrical estimate (infant) 12. Born at Boston Medical Center (infant) 13. Not incarcerated at the time of enrollment (mother) Exclusion Criteria: 1. Plans to voluntarily relinquish parental rights at birth 2. Does not speak English. 3. Estimated gestational age less than 36 weeks 4. Infant positive for serious congenital anomaly or developmental disability



Primary Contact:

Principal Investigator
Ruth Rose-Jacobs, Sc.D.
Boston Medical Center

Backup Contact:


Location Contact:

Boston, Massachusetts 02445
United States

There is no listed contact information for this specific location.

Site Status: N/A

Data Source: ClinicalTrials.gov

Date Processed: November 18, 2019

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