One in 20 critically ill newborns cared for in Australian neonatal units is born to a drug-addicted woman, new UNSW research shows.

The study, by Dr Kei Lui from the Royal Hospital for Women and UNSW, is reported in the latest edition of the Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health (JPCH), the peer reviewed journal of the Paediatrics Division of The Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP).

The study found infants of substance-using mothers were significantly more likely to be of a lower gestational age and of a lower birth weight and head-circumference than non-exposed infants. There was a skew towards prematurity and a higher proportion were preterm. For reasons that are currently uncertain, these babies had a lower mortality rate than non-substance-exposed babies.

For more on this story, visit the Royal Australasian College of Physicians' website.