Illegal drugs . When a mother takes any substance or drug, so does her baby. When a mother is addicted, so is her baby. After birth, this baby suffers symptoms of drug withdrawal (extreme irritability and jitteriness). Infants of mothers who use addicting drugs during pregnancy are more difficult to care for after birth, and may show lifelong effects of their mother’s drug use.
Drugs affect a baby throughout pregnancy, but are most dangerous in the first trimester. Possible effects of illegal drugs on the developing baby include stillbirth, miscarriage, reduced birth weight, mental retardation, pre- maturity, and an increased risk in Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). In fact, the risk of SIDS may be increased as much as twenty times in infants of opiate- abusing mothers. Researchers believe that drugs such as opiates and cocaine also harm developing babies indirectly by constricting blood vessels in the placenta and thus reducing the oxygen supply to the pre-born baby – a suffocation effect similar to that caused by nicotine.
Marijuana. Until recently, maternal marijuana smoking during pregnancy was not proven to be harmful to babies. Newer studies, however, suggest that marijuana can harm the fetus in all the ways mentioned above, thanks to its active ingredient THC. In addition, the smoke of a joint contains the same nicotine and carbon monoxide found in cigarettes, only in doses that may be greater than those found in commercially available tobacco products.
Amphetamines (speed). These addictive drugs are also harmful to the developing baby and increase the chances of pre-maturity and intrauterine growth retardation. Newborns of speed-addicted mothers show typical speed withdrawal symptoms (rapid heart rates and breathing) immediately after birth.
See a Professional. If you are addicted to drugs, make an appointment with a professional counselor or enroll yourself in a drug withdrawal program the day you discover you are pregnant. Even better, start these programs as soon as you decide to get pregnant.