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Birth Defects: The Outcomes Of Drug Abuse During Pregnancy

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Outcomes Of Drug Abuse During Pregnancy


Pregnancy also called gestation during which one or more offspring develops within a woman. It’s most significant to avoid drug use if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant as it affects both mom and unborn baby. In addition to caffeine and alcohol, drugs like marijuana, cocaine, and methamphetamine are harmful substances that halt the progress of a happy life. These drugs are exposed and can have lasting consequences on an unborn child. The drug in taking mothers often give birth to “drug babies.” These children have to face lots of developmental problems. Drug consuming females are at an increased risk of complications. These complications include preterm labor, miscarriage, or developmental disorders, fetal death, and even maternal death.  These drug-abusing moms not only spoiling their life they too spoil the life of their unborn child. Here in this blog, we have listed some consequences caused to the mothers or women who consume drugs.

Exposure To Drugs And Their Outcomes


Consuming alcohol during pregnancy leads to a serious defect in the developing baby. Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs) are a set of conditions that will arise in a baby whose mother consumed alcohol during gestation. Anything consumed by the mother will reach the developing baby through the umbilical cord and placenta. Taking alcohol during pregnancy can result in FASDs conditions namely learning disabilities, behavioral problems, and physical deformations. Alcoholic beverages including hard liquor, wine, and beer are capable of generating fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. This disorder will mainly affect the brain of the baby as the baby’s brain continues to grow throughout the pregnancy. Some of the causes of FASDs on babies include Abnormal facial features, growth and height issue, sleeping issues, Impairment of vision, poor attention, or hyperactivity. One of the best-preventing methods is to stop the consumption of alcohol immediately.


Some of the common names of Marijuana are pot, weed, grass, and reefer. Marijuana, like a roll of tobacco smoke, crosses the placenta to your baby and releases toxins that hinder from obtaining nutrients that the baby required to grow. Research on the outcome of marijuana use during pregnancy is limited to the females who smoke marijuana, conjointly use tobacco and alcohol. Smoking marijuana will increase the amount of monoxide and dioxide in the blood, which reduces the level of oxygen needed for the growth of an unborn baby. Smoking marijuana throughout maternity will increase the possibility of miscarriage, low birth weight, premature births, biological process delays, and activity & learning issues. Abstaining from marijuana use entirely while pregnant decreases the possibility of harming your baby. Even the consumption of marijuana.


Common names used for cocaine are the bump, toot, C, coke, crack, flake, snow, and candy. Same as the marijuana, cocaine also enters the placenta and passes to the unborn child. The elimination process of cocaine from the baby’s body is slower compared to the adult. As per the Organization of embryology data Services (OTIS), throughout the first months of gestation cocaine exposure, could increase the danger of miscarriage. Later in gestation, cocaine use will cause placental disruption, which might cause severe hurt, preterm birth, and vertebrate death. The birth defect seems to be larger if the mother has consumed cocaine frequently during pregnancy. Premature birth, miscarriage, low birth weight are also associated with effects that unborn babies may face. Some specialists believe that learning difficulties could result because the kid gets older. Defects of the genital organ, kidneys, and brain are potential. Cocaine is a very dangerous and addictive influencing drug and should be strictly avoided during pregnancy.


Common names of Heroin are horse, smack, junk, and H-stuff. Heroin could be a terribly addictive drug that crosses the placenta to the baby. This drug is terrifying that the baby will become addicted to the drug.

Consumption of heroin during pregnancy will give space for respiration difficulties, premature birth, low birth weight, low glucose, and at times even death of the baby. Withdrawal symptoms of heroin addiction embrace irritability, convulsions, diarrhea, fever, sleep abnormalities, and joint stiffness may occur. Pregnant ladies who inject narcotics are at the increased risk of HIV which may pass or affect the unborn child. Treating Heroin addiction is difficult particularly during gestation. It is advisable to have communication with your healthcare supplier thus he or she can give effective treatment for you and your baby.


Methamphetamine can also be termed as meth, speed, and crystal. Methamphetamine increases the rate of heartbeat for both mother and child as it chemically related to amphetamine. A problem that may occur due to methamphetamine is similar to the use of cocaine. The use of Methamphetamine decreases the rate of oxygen supply to both mom and child. As a result, the child may suffer from tremors, sleeplessness, muscle spasms, and feeding difficulties. It is best to avoid or stop using methamphetamine at the time of pregnancy.

Need For Treatment

Regarding the treatment for the pregnant women who were into the substance abuse, both the technology MI a CBT were combined together into one-on-one in a 30-min “Skill training sessions”, which is delivered by the primary healthcare person. There is no limit on these sessions and it is considered to be more important to educate the value and exposure about the particular topic. The study goal for all the patients at a minimum of about six sessions worth of content. The 30 minutes has been split into 3- 10 min session. The first 10 min is for the review of homework or activities from the prior session and the second session of 10 minutes is for skill training and the last 10 minutes is for assign homework and introduce the topic for the next session. 

There was six sessions worth of content and each of the session states that:

First Session – This session briefs the history of substance abuse and then followed by motivational interviews and explaining why it is important for her to get away from addiction, the concept of triggers were introduced to her.

Second Session – Gives brief ideas on triggers and on this session Homeworks was given to the patients to slowly change their routine and how important it is to get away from this hazardous abuse.

Third Session – This session briefs about the health-related issues and risks in using addictive materials.

Fourth Session – The fourth session is all about communication. The therapists analyze the communication patterns with the pregnant woman and discover where they need to do homework on it, to improvise their communication.

Fifth Session – This session more specifically addresses on relapse techniques.

Sixth Session – In this part, the therapist helps the patients to identify their problem and guides them towards a positive solution.

Nationwide Survey

  • According to the data collected in the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), from the year 2002-2017, the use of cannabis was more than double among the pregnant women from the report collected from 467,100 women who aged between 12-44.
  • Cannabis use was significantly increased among pregnant women and it is observed more in the first trimester than the other trimesters.
  • The usage of cannabis for medical purposes is very vare, but just as frequent among pregnant as non-pregnant women.
  • Between 2002-2003 and 2016-2017, past-month cannabis use increased from 3.4% to 7.0% among pregnant women overall and from 5.7% to 12.1% during the first trimester.
  • The overall survey among pregnant women in the past month for the usage of cannabis has been increased from 0.9% to 3.4%.
  • When we segment this overall survey, the consumers in the trimester have increased from 1.8% to 5.3%, people in the second trimester from 0.6% to 2.5% increased, and in the third trimester, the consumers have been increased from 0.5% to 2.5%.
  • In 2019 mother days about 210,000 women in America spend on jail drug to some substance abuse.
  • According to the research by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health in 2017, for a month, it is recorded about 1 in 12 pregnant women have abused illicit drugs.
  • In the last 20 years, about 28 states in America have been observed with an increase of 300% on the neonatal abstinence syndrome in the number of newborns.
  • Opioid overdose was identified as a significant contributor to deaths during pregnancy as per the recent reviews on the causes of maternal deaths in 3 states in the USA and it ranges between 11 to 20% of overall deaths during pregnancy.

Bottom line

A developing baby is often dependent on its mother for its nutrients, hormones, chemicals, and everything required to develop totally and properly. The effects of drugs and alcohol during pregnancy will cause long and short-term risks to both the unborn child and the mother. Consulting with the professionals regarding the drugs and its outcomes is the best idea to make sure the highest possibilities of a healthy term and birth. You can get help from counseling, support groups, and treatment programs for the effective treatment for you and your baby.

Last Update : August 8, 2020




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  1. Once a time back i was often hearing these kind of stories and i really don’t know how a mom could be so abused to addiction. I hope this world changes.Thanks for writing this!

  2. Any kind of addiction is bad for the next generation and we should be cautious when it comes to thinks like this. Good one, Thanks for Writing!

  3. I was born to a mother who abuse alcohol often when she was carrying me and after my birth too. I faced a lot of struggles in my childhood days. But I was fortunate enough to be adopted by my neighbours at the age of 2 and now I am having a happy life with 2 kids.

  4. Hi even I am a drug addict were I lost my baby due to my drug addiction. I understood that the Outcomes Of Drug Abuse During Pregnancy

  5. Nice article, keep writing more article which related to addiction and mental health.

  6. My wife was a drug addict and this addiction completely damaged my baby. Nice article

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