Substance Abuse During Pregnancy

What goes in your body goes into your baby!

Your body is your baby’s home for nine months. What goes into your body including what you eat, drink, use, and expose yourself to can have a major impact on your baby’s growth and development. The choices that you make now can have lasting effects on your baby’s health and future. Don’t take chances with your baby’s health. Give your child the best possible start in life choose to protect your baby by avoiding substances that could harm him or her. Nothing is more important than your baby’s health.

Avoid Alcohol

Drinking alcohol during pregnancy increases the risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, and low birthweight. Low- birthweight babies can have serious health problems and are at risk for long-term disability. Low- birthweight is a factor in more than half of all infant deaths.

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders

Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder is the term used to describe the many problems that are caused by exposure to alcohol during pregnancy. The most severe of these disorders is fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). FAS is characterized by mental disability, delayed physical development, abnormal facial features, and many different health problems. FAS is completely preventable. Even a child not diagnosed with FAS may have lifelong mental and behavioral problems if his or her mother drank alcohol during pregnancy. To be safe, women should not drink alcohol if they are sexually active and are not using an effective form of birth control.


Stay Away From Tobacco!

The same poisons in tobacco that can harm you can also hurt your developing baby. The carbon monoxide in tobacco smoke decreases the amount of oxygen that your baby receives. Smoking during pregnancy can result in miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth, and low- birthweight. Babies whose mothers smoked during pregnancy are MUCH more likely to die of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). Babies exposed to secondhand smoke during pregnancy may also have reduced growth and low birthweight. If you are pregnant or are thinking about becoming pregnant, stop smoking now, it is the safest decision for your baby’s health. After your baby is born, do not allow him or her to be exposed to tobacco smoke.


Ask Before Taking Any Medications or Supplements

Do not take any medication (including prescription and over the counter drugs) or herbal supplement unless your healthcare professional tells you it is safe to use during pregnancy. Some drugs and herbs can be harmful to a developing baby. Even if a healthcare professional prescribes the medicine, do not take it unless he or she knows you are pregnant and tells you the drug is safe. Always tell healthcare professional (including doctors and pharmacists) if you are pregnant, might be pregnant, or are breastfeeding.

Protect Yourself From Toxic Chemicals

Some chemicals and a few metals can be harmful to a developing baby. Limit your exposure to chemicals in your home or at work. Avoid exposure to pesticides whenever, possible and ALWAYS read the label for warnings on any cleaner or other household product. Avoid eating certain types of fish such as, shark, swordfish, king mackerel, or tilefish because they may contain high levels of mercury, which can harm a developing baby.

Say “NO” to Other Drugs!

Marijuana is one of the most widely used illegal drugs among pregnant women. It is not a safe drug. Marijuana use can decrease the amount of oxygen that your baby receives. Chemicals in marijuana can also effect the baby’s development. Marijuana use during pregnancy may cause miscarriage, low birthweight, and nervous system and behavioral problems in your baby.

Cocaine users increase the risk of miscarriage, premature labor, or stroke in their unborn babies. Their babies may die in the womb or suffer permanent brain damage. Babies exposed to cocaine in the womb are more likely to be born at a low birthweight. Their heads may be smaller than average. They may experience withdrawal symptoms and be at increased risk for lifelong impairments, including mental retardation and cerebral palsy.

Methamphetamine/Amphetamines both are a concern during pregnancy. Abuse of amphetamines during pregnancy increases the risk of low birthweight, premature birth, and other problems. Meth use during pregnancy can cause miscarriage, premature birth, and low birthweight. Babies born to women who use meth during pregnancy can have tremors, abnormal muscle tone, and difficulty eating and sleeping. Meth use during pregnancy may also increase a baby’s risk of death from sudden infant death syndrome.

Pregnant HEROIN users put their babies at increased risk for miscarriage, stillbirth, and premature birth. Their babies may be born addicted to the drug and suffer severe withdrawal symptoms. Their babies are also at increased risk for sudden infant death syndrome.

Inhalants during pregnancy puts your baby at increased risk for miscarriage, premature birth, low birthweight, and developmental delays.