The risk of substance abuse during pregnancy is a pressing concern for many women. When women become pregnant, there is usually an expectation that they will abstain from using substances that could put their health and the health of their unborn child in jeopardy. Substance abuse can not only create physical risks to the mother’s health but has the potential to cause significant harm to the developing baby.
When women become pregnant, there is usually an expectation to abstain from using substances that could put the mother’s health and the health of the unborn child at risk. Substance abuse can range from alcohol, cigarettes, opioids, cocaine, methamphetamines, and other drugs. Studies have linked substance abuse during pregnancy to a wide range of misfortunes for both mother and child.
The first trimester of pregnancy is a critical time for the baby’s development. Fetal alcohol syndrome is a known possible risk of alcohol consumption during pregnancy. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that pregnant women should completely avoid alcohol since the risks to the unborn baby are too great. Smoking cigarettes is particularly dangerous as there is an increased risk of the baby being born premature or with a low birth weight.
The risks of using opioids, even when prescribed by a doctor, during pregnancy are also considerable. Opioid use during pregnancy can lead to a condition known as ‘neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS)’, where the baby experiences withdrawal symptoms like tremors, excessive crying, and difficulty sleeping. A study conducted by the National Center for Biotechnology Information found that babies exposed to opioids in the womb had a higher risk of having developmental delays and behavioral issues.
Cocaine use during pregnancy can have a range of consequences on the baby, including birth defects as well as issues with the development of the central nervous system. There is also a greater chance of the baby’s birth being an emergency caesarean or a premature birth, which puts the baby at a higher risk of complications.
The use of methamphetamines during pregnancy is also linked to a variety of risks for the baby’s health. These include lower birth weight, smaller head circumference, and an increased risk of neonatal death. There is also an increased risk of abrupt placenta separation which can endanger the baby’s life.
With any substance abuse, the risk of low birth weight is also increased. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that pregnant women abstain from any drug or alcohol use as it can seriously damage the unborn baby.
Overall, expecting mothers should avoid any drug or substance use during pregnancy, as the effects can range from extreme health risks to developmental delays. It’s important to understand the effects of any substance abuse on both mother and baby so that appropriate changes can be made. There is help available if you need it, seek out your doctor or a mental health professional to discuss all your options.