The Harmful Effects of Drugs and Alcohol during Pregnancy

Posted: January 6, 2016 by

Harmful Effects of Drugs and Alcohol during Pregnancy


Pregnancy is one of the most exciting phases of a woman’s life, but it’s also one of the most vulnerable periods in a child’s existence. It’s a parent’s duty to care for the health of the child before and after birth. A woman’s diet affects her unborn child, and therefore, a woman must exercise moderation and discretion during pregnancy.

Whatever a woman takes into her body greatly affects the developing fetus in the womb. Most of the time, pregnant women change their diet and exercise routines to maintain a healthy pregnancy. However, some women take different kinds of drugs or medications during pregnancy without realizing the potential harm they’re causing their unborn children. Alcohol or drugs put a fetus at high risk of birth defects.

How does drug use affect a fetus?

Numerous drugs are capable of entering a fetus’s bloodstream from the mother’s. Any negative side effects of drug use—including addiction and dependency—can be transmitted to the fetus in the womb. Drugs can also cause a bewildering array of health complications:

  • Higher risk of stroke, mental disabilities, and learning defects
  • Premature birth, stillbirth, or miscarriage
  • Infections, including Hepatitis C and HIV
  • Heart and organ defects
  • NAS (Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome)
How does alcohol use affect a fetus?

Alcohol travels through the mother’s bloodstream and enters the fetus’s body through the umbilical cord.  The same amount of alcohol which is present in a woman’s blood is also in her baby’s blood.

Alcohol can cause the baby to develop Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS). This can harm the baby’s mental and physical development in numerous ways :

  • Facial and dental abnormalities
  • Low birth weight or small size
  • Growth problems
  • Intellectual impairment
  • Heart problems
  • Learning and behavioral problems

Heavy alcohol use during pregnancy has also been linked to stillbirth, miscarriage, or premature birth.

Research shows that continuous exposure to drugs or alcohol is detrimental during the first trimester. Therefore, women should avoid taking drugs or alcohol at all costs during their pregnancies.

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