During your pregnancy you are not just eating for two – you‘re also breathing and drinking for two, too! If you smoke, use alcohol or take illegal drugs, so does your unborn baby. Your actions and what you put into your body (or don’t put into your body) can have long lasting effects on your child’s health.
Fetal Alcohol Exposure
Alcohol can disrupt the fetal development at all stages of your pregnancy. In fact, research shows that binge and heavy drinking can put a fetus at the greatest risk for severe problems. Prenatal alcohol exposure can lead to a wide range of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) that include:
- Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS): One of the more serious consequences of drinking can include the following symptoms: facial abnormalities, growth deficits, central nervous system abnormalities and coordination problems.
- Alcohol-Related Birth Defects (ARBD): This can include physical abnormalities such as bone, heart and kidney problems, as well as auditory and visual impairments.
- Alcohol-Related Neurodevelopmental Disorder (ARND): Central nervous system and/or cognitive and behavioral issues are indicative of this disorder.
Use of Illicit Drugs During Pregnancy
It’s estimated that nearly 4% of pregnant women use or abuse illicit drugs in the United States. These drugs pose serious risks not only for the mother but also for the unborn child. Here are a list of the commonly used illicit drugs by pregnant women and their harmful side effects:
- Methamphetamines: The use of these types of drugs is currently on the rise for pregnant women. Babies that are exposed to these drugs are often have low-birth weight, an increased chance of developing congenital heart defects and other physical abnormalities.
- Marijuana: This drug can slow fetal growth and has been linked to premature births. After birth these babies often undergo withdrawal symptoms, such as excessive crying, trembling and poor sleep patterns. Marijuana has also been linked to infertility in both men and women.
- Heroin: The use of heroin (as well as the unhealthy substances it’s cut with) can lead to extremely serious issues for a mother and her unborn child, including a variety of birth defects. Pregnant women who suddenly stop using heroin put their unborn child at risk of death and should consult an addiction treatment facility with an on-staff medical doctor to ensure a healthy transition for the mother and child.
If you or someone you know is currently pregnant and struggling with addiction, don’t wait, pick up the phone today and get help. Call us at 888.300.3332.
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). Your Pregnancy and Birth 4th edition. ACOG, Washington, DC, 2005.
Bauer, C.R., et al. Acute Neonatal Effects of Cocaine Exposure During Pregnancy. Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, volume 159, September 2005.