It is essential to know the impact of any drugs, including legal drugs prescribed to you by a doctor, on a fetus during pregnancy. It is possible you will need to change or go off your current prescription medication to avoid harming the fetus. If you suspect you are pregnant, consult your doctor right away for a pregnancy test, and to determine if you need to change your current medication plan.
Illegal drug use of any kind is highly dangerous for both the mother and the fetus and can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, premature labor, lifelong physical and neurological problems in the baby after birth, and even maternal death. It is possible to receive treatment for drug addiction during pregnancy, and the best possible thing you can do for your unborn child. Getting treatment will help you keep your baby safe, both during and after pregnancy.
Below are a few of the most common illegal drugs and the effects they can have on a fetus during pregnancy:
Marijuana use by pregnant women prevents the fetus from receiving the supply of oxygen it needs to grow properly. Using marijuana during pregnancy can result in miscarriage, low birth weight, premature birth, developmental delays, and learning or behavioral problems.
When an expectant mother uses cocaine, the drug stays in the system of the fetus much longer than it stays in the system of the mother. Use of cocaine in the early months of pregnancy can cause miscarriage, and in later months can cause placental abruption, which can lead to bleeding, early labor, and fetal death. Frequent cocaine use by pregnant women causes a high risk of congenital disabilities. Babies exposed to cocaine later in pregnancy can be born with cocaine dependency, and suffer withdrawals which are painful and if severe enough can lead to death.
Heroin use by pregnant women has many of the same implications for unborn babies as cocaine, but because a needle often administers heroin, the mother runs the additional risk of contracting HIV or Hepatitis C, which can then be passed to the unborn child.
LSD users can behave erratically and violently, which may cause harm to the fetus. LSD use by pregnant women can lead to brain damage, congenital disabilities, low birth weight, and withdrawal symptoms in babies.
Methamphetamine has similar effects to cocaine on an unborn child. Like marijuana, methamphetamine also blocks the fetus from receiving sufficient oxygen. Children whose mothers used meth during pregnancy may have learning disabilities as they develop.