Pregnancy, Drug and Alcohol Use

Substance Abuse and the Unborn Child

It is a well-known fact that women who are pregnant should abstain from alcohol and illicit drugs, such as marijuana and cocaine. While a baby is in the womb, it shares the same air and blood supply as the mother, meaning that everything that the mother consumes will then move on to the child as well. These chemicals can have numerous negative effects on the unborn baby, and lead to a myriad of mental and physical health issues later on in life.

Within the US, between the years 2008 and 2009, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) found that 4.5% of pregnant women between the ages of 15 and 44 had used illicit drugs in the month prior to being surveyed. As for alcohol use within the same age group, 10.0% of women used alcohol, 4.4% conducted binge drinking, and 0.8% were heavy drinkers. This shows that there are many women who are knowingly causing harm to their unborn children. Admission to a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center can provide these women and their babies with the help that they need to return to a healthier lifestyle.

Alcohol and Pregnancy

The advice about alcohol and the risks that it poses to unborn children varies depending on the source. Some organizations say that abstinence is the best policy to look after a developing baby’s health. There has, however, been some research that suggests that light drinking will not lead to any negative effects and may even be beneficial to the child in the womb. The defining line between heavy and light drinking is blurred and shifts from study to study, thus leaving the final decision up to the mother herself. What is known though, is that heavy binge drinking will definitely lead to a myriad of health problems both during pregnancy and later on in the child’s life, and activities such as this should certainly be avoided. Refraining from drinking is the only sure-fire way to prevent any negative effects from being transferred to the developing child.

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASDs) are a group of symptoms that can exhibit themselves in a person whose mother drank heavily during pregnancy. As the lower safe limit for alcohol is still largely undetermined, the only guaranteed method of protection is to abstain from drinking while pregnant. FASDs can be split up into two groups, Alcohol-Related Neurodevelopmental Disorders (ARNDs) and Alcohol-Related Birth Defects (ARBD), which refer to a patient’s mental and physical health, respectively. There are a significant number of FASDs, which include the following symptoms:

* Abnormal facial features
* Stunted growth (head and body size)
* Poor coordination
* Short attention span and hyperactive behavior
* Poor memory, learning difficulties & low IQ
* Vision or hearing problems
* Poorly functioning internal organs (kidneys, heart, liver, etc)

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) lies at the extreme end of the FASD spectrum. It involves severe mental and physical disabilities and can even result in the death of the child. Even if the baby survives the birth, it will have to cope with a number of the above symptoms for the rest of its life. In this present day, there is no cure for FAS. It is, however, 100% preventable by simply abstaining from drinking while pregnant.

There is quite a bit of help available out there for those suffering from FAS. The National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (NOFAS) offers support and advice for those who need assistance in taking care of someone with this horrible disorder. By trying to alleviate as many of the symptoms as possible, they aim to supply a child with a life in which they can grow and develop as normal. However, since there is no cure, the best method of stopping FAS is to refrain from drinking while pregnant in the first place.

Pregnant mothers who are alcohol dependent but who wish to stop should get in touch with a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center as soon as possible. The more exposure an unborn baby has to alcohol, the higher the risks. With the right treatment and support, both the mother and child will be able to break free from the dangers posed by binge drinking and alcohol addiction.

Drugs and Pregnancy

Illegal substances, such as marijuana, cocaine and heroin, pose significant health risks to pregnant mothers and their unborn children. Although each drug works in a different manner, they can all result in a myriad of negative symptoms which can then lead to the baby being stillborn or exhibiting a number of mental and physical health disorders, some of which are listed below:

* Hindered physical growth
* Learning and behavioral disabilities
* Drug dependency and withdrawal symptoms
* Tremors & muscle spasms
* Vomiting or diarrhea
* Low blood sugar
* Breathing difficulties

Taking drugs can also pose other risks to the pregnant mother and her baby. Injected substances, such as heroin, come with an increased likelihood of HIV transmission to both individuals, which can then cause serious health problems and even death. Other side effects of taking drugs, such as loss of appetite, hyperactivity and loss of judgment and reason can also result in additional stresses being placed on the mother and her child.

While illicit drugs, such as marijuana and heroin, should never be taken anyway, they are especially dangerous when pregnant. Those who know of anyone who is abusing substances such as these should get in touch with a reliable drug and alcohol rehab center as soon as possible so as to minimize the risks posed to both the mother and her unborn child. Other professionals in the health-care industry, such as physicians and counselors, can also provide assistance such as finding substitute medication to handle the addiction and help devise treatment plans.

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