Home Health Drug abuse in pregnancy and effects on the newborn

Drug abuse in pregnancy and effects on the newborn


Drug abuse during pregnancy can have adverse effects on the mother, the foetus and later the new born.  Briefly, a pregnant woman taking drugs while pregnancy has higher risk of infections such as skin, hepatitis, anaemia and blood contaminations.

In this article, we are going to learn how drug abuse affects the child and mother during and after pregnancy.

Effects on the unborn child

The foetus receives nutrients from the month through the umbilical cord meaning that transmission of the drug particles from the mother to the uterus is also through the umblical cord. Prenatal drug exposure has numerous challenges such as;

Impaired growth

Drug use during pregnancy can cause a condition known as foetal growth restriction. This is a condition where the foetus never achieves its normal size. The growth is usually grow and retarded. This affects the foetal genetic composition and some organs may not grow as per the natural design. This also goes to the level of having small head circumference for the new-born.

Birth defects

A birth defect is an abnormality that ruins the normal formation and functionality of a baby. Drug abuse causes changes in the foetal brain, foot and heart and they are born with some deficiencies. Some common birth defects are clubfoot, down syndrome, cleft lip, cleft palate etc.

Drugs that cause defects to a developing foetus. During pregnancy, it is prudent to avoid some drugs that can have adverse effects and cause drug addiction of the foetus.

  1. Isotretinoin – This is drug for treating a skin condition known as acne. It is common among women whose hair follicles are plugged with oil and dead skin cells.
  2. Alcohol
  • Cocaine
  1. High doses of vitamin A
  2. Lithium etc.

Altered brain development

Prenatal drug exposure also affects how the brain develops. The development of the brain is gradual and even after birth the brain continues to grow. When the body forming genes are exposed to drugs during the early stages of developing, it is adversely affected.

Some of the other effects of prenatal drug exposure are:

  1. Impact the child’s behaviour
  2. Effect on the child’s language
  • Effect on the child’s cognition
  1. Risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

How to detect drug use during pregnancy

The medical world has come up with tests that can help medical professionals detect the presence of drugs in a pregnant woman. A urine test known as chromatography, finds drug particles such as marijuana and cocaine in pregnant woman. The effects of drugs on pregnant women are miscarriage, still birth and high blood pressure.

When a mother withdraws from drugs when they deliver a child, there are some effects that come to the infant. Some are severe while others are mild. Below are some of the effects

  1. Blotchy skin coloring
  2. Diarrhoea
  • Excessive or high-pitched crying
  1. Abnormal sucking reflex
  2. Fever
  3. Hyperactive reflexes
  • Increased muscle tone
  • Irritability
  1. Poor feeding
  2. rapid breathing
  3. Sleeping problems
  • Slow in gaining weight
  • Sneezing
  • Sweating and trembling

Get help with drug abuse during pregnancy

Drug abuse during pregnancy has negative effects on the unborn child and the mother. If you are battling drug addiction during pregnancy talk to Rise Recovery Services Drug Recovery  Centre for specialized and professional help today. They do have specialized program that will help you effectively recovery from drug addiction through drug detoxification program.