Los Angeles Centers for Alcohol and Drug Abuse wants to remind you that if you’re pregnant — or thinking about getting pregnant — and you want a healthy baby, it’s critical that you avoid alcohol and drug use during pregnancy. Illegal drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, opioids, and methamphetamine aren’t the only drugs that are harmful to fetal development. Alcohol use can also have life-long effects on an unborn child.
Maybe you won’t have a serious or long-lasting problem after using alcohol or drugs while pregnant. But the same is not always true for a fetus. Drug-using mothers often give birth to “drug babies.” Women who drink during pregnancy can have a child with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs). Children born to substance-using moms can have a range of serious problems, such as:
- Medical issues
- Behavioral problems
- Learning disabilities
- Social problems
Remember, if you smoke or drink alcohol, so does your fetus. If you use marijuana or other drugs, your unborn baby also feels the impact of these dangerous drugs. And if you are addicted to cocaine, you’re not only putting your own life on the line, but you are risking the health of your child. The consequences of using cocaine include heart attacks, respiratory failure, strokes, and seizures. And these life-threatening health problems can be passed to an unborn baby.
Taking drugs during pregnancy also increases the chance of birth defects, premature babies, underweight babies, and stillborn births. Exposure to drugs such as marijuana and alcohol before birth has been proven to cause behavior problems in early childhood. These drugs can also affect the child’s memory and attentiveness. In addition, some findings show that babies born to women who use cocaine, alcohol, or tobacco when they are pregnant may have brain structure changes that persist into early adolescence.
May 13 through May 19 is National Alcohol and other Drug Related Birth Defects Awareness Week. If you or someone you love needs help with substance use during pregnancy, call L.A. CADA at (562) 906-2676 for information.
Find out what: a child with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders has to say