Tuesday, September 24, 2013

About Substance Abuse Throughout Pregnancy

According to Terry Gorski, the owner and founder of CENAPS, pregnant women can reduce or eliminate the risk of at least five known complications common to newborn babies and children, simply by not abusing drugs during pregnancy. Gorski reports that many developmental issues following children and their immediate families throughout their lives can be avoided through prenatal abstinence from substance abuse. Major birth defects and related problems such as miscarriages, stillbirths and the incidence of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) can be reduced, if not totally eliminated by most women, if they do not abuse drugs or alcohol while pregnant.

Substance Abuse-Related Problems

According to Gorski, complications of pregnancy and early childhood are also related to the abuse of substances during pregnancy. Gorski states that substance abuse causes many complications that eventually lead to the mother's death during childbirth and lead to birth defects, mental retardation, attention deficient disorder and other learning disabilities after the child is born. He holds that substance abuse is also responsible for many behavior problems in children and adolescents, including drug and alcohol abuse, conduct disorders, rageful behaviors, violence and crime.

Alcohol, Illegal and Prescription Drugs

Alcohol, illegal and prescribed drugs all put pregnant women and their unborn babies at risk. Even over-the-counter medication can be dangerous for both mother and baby during pregnancy. According to The Merck Manual On-line Medical Library Home Edition for Parents & Caregivers, 90 percent of pregnant women use some drug during their pregnancies, meaning that 500,000 unborn babies annually are exposed to psychoactive drugs before they are born. Some drugs are never safe to take during pregnancy; others are only dangerous during particular stages of pregnancy. It is important for pregnant women to consult with their doctors before taking any prescription drug and read the label of over-the-counter drugs before using them.

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS)

Pregnant women who drink alcohol, even lightly to moderately, risk giving birth to babies born with fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). FAS infants have small heads and body size. Their facial characteristics are abnormal, and they have behavioral problems including mental retardation and learning disabilities. They also commonly experience failure to thrive patterns.

Nicotine & Marijuana Smokers

Women who smoke marijuana during pregnancy, as well as nicotine users, risk giving birth to stillborn babies or babies with low birth weight. They also risk a greater likelihood of miscarriage earlier in pregnancy. Cannabis users are more likely to have babies who have fetal abnormalities, especially involving the nervous system, and nicotine smokers are more likely to give birth to babies who die very soon after birth, experiencing SIDS.


Women who abuse cocaine during pregnancy are more likely to have babies who suffer from prenatal strokes and kidney and breathing disorders. They are equally likely to experience miscarriages or premature labor, as well as a condition involving the partial separation of the placenta from the uterus wall. Infants of cocaine-using mothers may also have hindered growth and be at greater risk of SIDS. In addition to the above problems, babies of heavy cocaine users are born addicted to the drug, and many believe they will later have learning disabilities develop as a result of their mother's drug use.

Heroin & Narcotics

Mothers who abuse heroin or narcotic drugs may give birth to babies who are stillborn or have low birth weight. They may deliver prematurely, and their babies may have breathing and birth difficulties. They may also have bleeding within their heads, poorer motor coordination and later develop delayed motor and mental ability. Addicted mothers who use these drugs intravenously may also pass the HIV virus to their babies, causing them to be born HIV positive.

Methamphetamine & Other

Use of methamphetamine by pregnant women can cause problems with the development of the brain, spinal cord, heart and kidneys of their babies. Club foot and missing portions of arms and legs are common among the babies of meth-addicted females. Methamphetamine use also causes the teeth to decay quickly, which may cause problems for both mother and baby involving calcium deficiencies.

Inhalants are responsible for birth defects and other malformations. PCP-abusing mothers give birth to babies who are born in withdrawal from the drug, and steroid users give birth to babies who have a higher rate of cleft palate.

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