When you are pregnant, you are not just "eating for two." You also breathe and drink for two. If you smoke, use alcohol or take illegal drugs, so does your unborn baby.



Substance abuse of drugs during pregnancy


Important thing we need to know:

When you are pregnant, you are not just "eating for two." You also breathe and drink for two. If you smoke, use alcohol or take illegal drugs, so does your unborn baby.




According to the NSDUH report, 18 percent of pregnant women drink alcohol during early pregnancy.

Women who drink alcohol while pregnant increase the risk that their infants will have physical, learning, and/or behavior problems, including Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). These problems are caused by alcohol and can be lifelong.

Combined 2011 to 2012 data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) show that 8.5 percent of pregnant women aged 15 to 44 drank alcohol in the past month. Also, 2.7 percent binge drank. Among women aged 15 to 44 who were not pregnant, 55.5 percent drank alcohol in the past month, and 24.7 percent binge drank. Most alcohol use by pregnant women occurred during the first trimester. Alcohol use was lower during the second and third trimesters than during the first (4.2 and 3.7 percent vs. 17.9 percent). These findings suggest that many pregnant women are getting the message and not drinking alcohol.


Every 15 minutes, a baby is born suffering from opioid withdrawal.

Opioid use doing pregnancy can result in a drug withdrawal syndrome in newborns called neonatal abstinence syndrome, or neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome(NAS/NOWS), which causes costly hospital stays. A recent analysis showed that an estimated 32,000 babies were born with this syndrome in the United States in 2014, a more than 5-fold increase since 2004.


Substance use doing pregnancy varies by race and ethnicity.

According to NSDUH data, among women aged 15 to 44, pregnant black women were more likely than pregnant white and Hispanic women to have used any illicit drugs in the past month. Pregnant black and white women were more likely than pregnant Hispanic women to have used alcohol in the past month. Pregnant white women were more likely than pregnant black women to have smoked cigarettes in the past month, and both groups were more likely than pregnant Hispanic women to have smoked.





The effects of using different drugs:

Tobacco. Smoking during pregnancy passes nicotine, carbon monoxide, and other harmful chemicals to your baby. This could cause many problems for your unborn baby's development. It raises the risk of your baby being born too small, too early, or with birth defects. Smoking can also affect babies after they are born. Your baby would be more likely to develop diseases such as asthma and obesity. There is also a higher risk of dying from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

Smoking during pregnancy increases the risk of health problems for developing babies, including preterm birth, low birth weight, and birth defects of the mouth and lip.

Additionally, e-cigarettes and other tobacco products containing nicotine (the addictive drug found in tobacco) are not safe to use during pregnancy. Nicotine is a health danger for pregnant women and developing babies and can damage a developing baby’s brain and lungs.


Drinking alcohol. There is no known amount of alcohol that is safe for a woman to drink during pregnancy. If you drink alcohol when you are pregnant, your child could be born with lifelong fetal alcohol syndrome disorders (FASD). Children with FASD can have a mix of physical, behavioral, and learning problems.

Drinking alcohol during pregnancy increases your baby's chances of having these problems:

Premature birth. This is when your baby is born before 37 weeks of pregnancy. Premature babies may have serious health problems at birth and later in life.

Brain damage and problems with growth and development

Birth defects, like heart defects, hearing problems or vision problems. Birth defects are health conditions that are present at birth. Birth defects change the shape or function of one or more parts of the body. They can cause problems in overall health, how the body develops, or in how the body works.

Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (also called FASDs). Children with FASDs may have a range of problems, including intellectual and developmental disabilities. These are problems with how the brain works that can cause a person to have trouble in learning, communicating, taking care of himself or getting along with others. They also may have problems or delays in physical development. FASDs usually last a lifetime. Binge drinking during pregnancy increases your chances of having a baby with FASDs. Binge drinking is when you drink four or more drinks in 2 to 3 hours.

Low birthweight (also called LBW). This is when a baby is born weighing less than 5 pounds, 8 ounces.

Miscarriage. This is when a baby dies in the womb before 20 weeks of pregnancy.

Stillbirth. This is when a baby dies in the womb after 20 weeks of pregnancy.


Illegal drugs.

1. Cocaine crosses the placenta and enters the developing baby. Cocaine can be found in the urine, meconium (stool), umbilical cord and hair of newborns who were exposed during pregnancy. Cocaine is cleared more slowly from the developing baby in a pregnancy and as a newborn than it does in an adult. Therefore, cocaine stays in the baby’s body for a longer time.

Cocaine can lower the supply of food and oxygen that need to reach the developing baby. The babies of mothers who use cocaine during pregnancy tend to have poor growth (weigh less, be shorter in length, and have smaller heads) than babies born without exposure to cocaine. Babies with low birth weight are more likely to die in their first month of life than are normal weight babies. They are also more likely to have life-long disabilities, including learning, visual, and hearing problems.

Cocaine use can cause the placenta to pull away from the wall of the uterus before labor starts. This condition, called placental abruption, can lead to heavy bleeding and can be fatal for both the mother and baby. Cocaine can also increase the risk for premature delivery (delivery before week 37). Babies who are born prematurely often start life with serious health problems, especially breathing difficulties. These babies may also have an intracranial hemorrhage (bleeding in the brain) before or soon after birth, and this can cause permanent brain damage and other disabilities.

Cocaine can cause significant central nervous system problems that may not be seen until the child is older. These effects may include problems with attention and behavioral self-control. Delays in learning, slower growth rate, language difficulties and an increased need for special education in school have been reported.


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