Home > The Complex Nature of Abused Substances and Getting Help for Addiction > Effects of Drugs & Alcohol on Babies
Pregnant and nursing mothers who alcohol and drugs produce adverse effects on babies. Alcohol and drugs can pass through the placenta and into the unborn baby’s bloodstream. Also, use of alcohol or drugs while pregnant can sometimes result in miscarriage of the baby, and in rare cases, death of the mother. Alcohol and drugs may also be transmitted to the baby through nursing mothers’ milk.
The effects of alcohol on babies are well-known and well-documented. Different studies on the effects of alcohol intake on babies have different results. Some studies about the effects of alcohol on babies are controversial. These suggest that a small amount of alcohol is safe during pregnancy. Other studies state that no amount of alcohol is safe. It has been proven that even a small amount of alcohol crosses through the placenta and into the baby.
The most infamous effect of alcohol abuse on babies is Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, or FAS, results when a woman drinks too much alcohol while she is pregnant. Studies vary widely on the how much alcohol is too much. Effects of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome can include low birth weight, mild to severe brain damage, and even changes in facial structure. Long-term effects of FAS include behavior and personality problems that result from brain damage in the uterus. Babies with FAS can suffer from long-term learning disabilities, communication difficulties, and more as they grow older. FAS is a permanent disability for babies who are born to alcoholic mothers.
Cocaine and crack cocaine cross through the placenta and into the unborn baby. Effects of cocaine and crack on babies can include miscarriage, early labor and birth, and smaller body size of the baby. Babies who are born to mothers who use cocaine or crack can be born already addicted. If this happens, the baby must go through withdrawal from cocaine or crack after it is born. If a woman uses cocaine or crack while breastfeeding, the drug will enter her breast milk and be ingested by her baby. Long term effects of cocaine and crack on babies can include behavioral problems as they grow older.
It has been proven that methamphetamine, or meth, passes through the placenta into the unborn baby. It is also absorbed into the mother’s breast milk, and potentially passed to her baby. The effects of meth on babies born to meth-addicted mothers can include small body size, birth defects, and increased heart rate. Meth use while pregnant can affect the baby’s internal organ development. Babies can be born already addicted to meth and must go through withdrawal after they are born. Long-term effects of meth on babies usually are behavior-related. Examples include hyperactivity, difficulty concentrating, learning disabilities, and aggression.
It is not only alcohol and illegal drugs that can harm babies in the womb and long-term. Prescription drugs can cause dangerous effects in babies as well. Some commonly-abused prescription drugs are opiate-based painkillers, anti-anxiety drugs, sleep aids, and stimulants. The effects of prescription drugs on babies while in the womb can include miscarriage, seizures, and preterm labor or birth. Babies can be born addicted to prescription drugs. They can also be born addicted to the drugs used to treat the mother’s addiction. They must go through withdrawal as soon as they are born. A few studies show long-term effects of prescription drugs on babies such as birth defects, spina bifida, and glaucoma.]]>
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