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Article Summary

Pregnancy And Addiction

The links between pregnancy and addiction are so strong that recent statistics show that more than 5.9% of expectant women in the United States abused illicit drugs while 8.5% drank alcohol in 2012. Among these women, cocaine, marijuana, and nicotine were the top 3 intoxicating substances used.

Additional studies show that about 4% of pregnant American women use illegal drugs like marijuana and cocaine on an annual basis. Others used legal intoxicating drugs like alcohol before their babies were born.

All these relationships between pregnancy and addiction come with the risk of causing serious harm to unborn and newly born babies. Without treatment, therefore, the women could continue abusing drugs all through the early life of their children - leading to severe damage to the happiness and health of the babies.

Effects On Mothers

If you take drugs while pregnant, it is highly likely that you might do so to ease the physical distress you endure. Sore bones, bladder discomfort, and aching muscles are common when you are expectant.

However, although alcohol and drugs might seem to bring some relief, they are likely to give rise to additional medical problems, like:

  • Blood-borne infections
  • Heart attacks
  • Sexually transmitted diseases
  • Stroke

Almost every one of the conditions that can affect you can also harm your child. This is because you are linked to the unborn baby through the placenta and the umbilical cord.

Effects On Babies

In many cases, using drugs and alcohol while pregnant can cause your baby to develop a physical dependence on the substances you take. When they are born, therefore, they might undergo NAS (or neonatal abstinence syndrome).

Through NAS, the baby might develop tremors, eating problems, colic, and poor coordination. NAS is most common among children whose mothers abused drugs like cocaine, marijuana, and heroin while pregnant.

In the most severe cases, pregnancy and addiction can cause babies to develop addictions to the substances their mothers were taking. As a direct result, they might experience severe withdrawal 4 to 6 months after they are born. These babies might also experience seizures, high blood pressure, and heart problems.

Even intoxicating substances that don't come with withdrawal symptoms might prove harmful to babies. For instance, abusing cocaine while pregnant could cause the following problems with your baby:

  • The detachment of the placenta
  • Growth defects
  • Hyperactivity
  • Intellectual difficulties
  • Premature birth
  • SIDS (or sudden infant death syndrome)
  • Stillbirth
  • Tremors

While battling pregnancy and addiction, you might start taking drugs that you consider safe. However, even these substances could severely impact your baby's health.

For instance, if you smoke or use nicotine products, your baby might die since the carbon monoxide from the products could cross into the placenta and reduce the oxygen levels available to your growing fetus.

Additionally, if you consume alcohol while pregnant, it could lead to developmental delays and health problems in your baby. Sometimes, these problems might not dissipate after you deliver your baby and they continue growing.


Since pregnancy and addiction are linked to adverse effects both for pregnant women and their children, it is imperative that you seek drug rehab treatment as soon as you realize that you are expecting. The earlier you receive such treatment, the easier it might be for you and your baby in the long run.


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