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Pregnancy and Addiction:

Is Your Baby at Risk?

The lethal risks of abusing any drugs such as heroin, painkillers oxycodone, cocaine, methamphetamines (e.g. crystal meth, ecstasy) and dagga (marijuana) are well-known. However, if you abuse any drugs during pregnancy, you’re jeopardising your baby’s health as well.

Here, we’ll discuss five widely-used drugs that more often than not, cause permanent harm to your baby before he/she is born. Prenatal abuse of any of these substances increases the risk of your baby being born with birth defects including behavioural and developmental problems later in his/her life; the baby could be born already addicted to the drug(s) you’re taking.

Cocaine

Cocaine is an exceedingly potent stimulant that can restrict blood flow and oxygen to the baby, which can result in a surplus of prenatal hazards such as

  • Stillbirth
  • Intestinal complications and
  • Growth defects

After he/she has been born, the baby is susceptible to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), cocaine dependency, growth, brain and kidney problems.

Marijuana

A lot of expectant mothers don’t believe that marijuana has any effect on an unborn baby, guess what, it does! When the mother takes these substances, they travel through the baby’s bloodstream and into the placenta. The active ingredient in marijuana, Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), reduces the supply of oxygen to the baby, which can lead to a miscarriage and even a premature birth which has its own set of complications.

Heroin

The dangers of prenatal abuse of heroin are similar to cocaine; however, it is common for the baby to be already addicted to the drug when he/she is born and will experience devastating withdrawal symptoms including

  • Hyperactivity
  • Breathing difficulty and
  • Convulsions

Symptoms from substance abuse can continue into early childhood and include stunted growth, impaired motor and organisational skills.

Tobacco and alcohol and are the two commonly-abused substances during pregnancy.

Tobacco

The problem with cigarettes is that they contain carbon monoxide, nicotine, as well as many other poisons. When inhaled, all substances flow through the mom’s bloodstream going to the baby directly. Risks include

  • Lack of oxygen supply
  • Lung problems
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
  • Birth defects

Alcohol

Drinking during pregnancy can cause the baby to be born with a condition called foetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). It causes permanent symptoms such as

  • Brain damage
  • Social, behavioural issues
  • General day-to-day functioning
  • Physical and cognitive disabilities

Please never forget that addiction to any of the abovementioned substances (and many others) is putting your baby at serious risk for irreparable conditions. Contact your local medical professional for information.

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