The Dangers Of Drug Use During Pregnancy

Drug addiction is an awful experience for anyone going through it, and unfortunately pregnant women are not immune to this. But what about the dangers associated with drug use during pregnancy? November is Child Safety Month, and with another life being affected by everything the mother does, it is so important to fully understand the risks of using drugs while pregnant. Using drugs is harmful to the person using them, but in cases of pregnancy, the baby is also exposed to these harms.

The Dangers of Drug Use During Pregnancy

It is recommended that expectant mothers do certain things during pregnancy that can help with fetal development. Eating healthy, exercise, and avoiding things that could potentially cause harm to the baby. But what about when females who struggle with addictions get pregnant? Here are some of the different risks associated with commonly used drugs during pregnancy.


Any drug use during pregnancy can lead to lasting effects on both mom and baby. When it comes to alcohol, there really is no known amount considered to be “safe” enough to consume while pregnant. When an expectant mother drinks alcohol, it enters into her bloodstream and passes through to the baby’s. This can lead to miscarriage, or stillbirth. There is also a wide range of physical, behavioral, and developmental effects on the baby after birth.

One of the commonly heard of risks associated with alcohol use during pregnancy is fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. By drinking alcohol during pregnancy, a mother risks the baby having or developing different characteristics including, but not limited to:

  • Low birth weight
  • Hyperactive behavior
  • Lack of coordination
  • Memory difficulties
  • Vision and hearing problems
  • Low IQ
  • Abnormal facial features
  • Speech delays

The best way to avoid any of these from occurring, is to avoid alcohol during pregnancy. Stop drinking before pregnancy, or if it is unplanned, stop drinking when pregnancy is suspected.


The full range of effects of marijuana use during pregnancy is unknown, however when it comes down to it, it is recommended that expectant mothers avoid using marijuana while pregnant. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), chemicals in marijuana like THC can travel through the mother’s bloodstream and into the baby’s. Although more research is needing to be done, research has shown using this drug during pregnancy can cause certain health issues in infants. Things like premature birth, low birth weight, and neurological developmental abnormalities.


Using cocaine during pregnancy can cause migraines or seizures for the mother. It can also lead to the placenta lining separating from the uterus before delivery. Drug use during pregnancy, such as cocaine, can also lead to premature birth, smaller head circumference, and low birth weight. There is also the risk of the baby being born addicted to cocaine. If this occurs, the baby can experience withdrawal symptoms associated with cocaine. Use of cocaine prenatally can lead to behavioral issues in the future for those infants. There is also the risk of cognitive issues, and the ability to maintain focus. 


Drug use during pregnancy is dangerous. Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) can occur when a woman uses heroin while pregnant. This means the drug passed through to the baby’s bloodstream causing dependence on the drug. After birth, symptoms of NAS can include fever, excessive crying, seizure, slow weight gain, vomiting, and even death. Requiring hospitalization and medication treatment, NAS can be treated. 


Leading to premature births, methamphetamine drug use during pregnancy can be harmful to an infant. Small birth size, heart and brain abnormalities, and the placenta lining separating from the uterus are all risks of prenatal methamphetamine use. The long term effects typically are shown to progress with age. From infants with increased stress and poor motor function, to school aged children with attention deficits. Using methamphetamine during pregnancy can not only harm mom, but the baby can endure lifelong repercussions.

Long-Term Effects on Children

Children born to mothers who issues with drug use during pregnancy can have a variety of different long term effects. There are the physically visible effects of birth defects such as cleft palates, and other facial abnormalities, as well as cognitive and behavioral issues such as learning disabilities, or the inability of a child to control their emotional responses. There are many things that can happen, over the long term, to a child who’s been exposed to drug use during pregnancy. Therefore, detox is a strong first step toward ensuring the safety of a child.

Find Detox Treatment For Drug and Alcohol Addiction

Pregnancy does not exclude someone from being able to receive the help they need if they suffer with substance abuse. However, trying to stop using drugs and alcohol without medical supervision while pregnant can be dangerous. Not only to you, but to your baby. We at Ambrosia strive to provide the best care possible to those who entrust us with their care. This include not only detox and addiction treatment but holistic therapies like yoga and meditation. Call us today to find out more about how we can help you overcome your addiction and live a happy, healthy life free from drugs and alcohol.

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