Most of what is consumed by an expectant mother is passed along to her growing baby. While some things are essential and good for the baby, others can be harmful.
Alcohol and illegal drugs are known to be particularly dangerous for a developing fetus. Even small quantities of these substances are considered to be unsafe during pregnancy. Stopping the use of alcohol and drugs before the pregnancy is ideal, but stopping at any point during pregnancy will also benefit the baby.
How Does Drug Use During Pregnancy Affect the Baby?
The mother and her baby are connected by the placenta and umbilical cord. Nearly everything that enters the woman’s body will be shared with her baby.
A growing fetus is sensitive to the exposure of drugs and is not capable of eliminating the drugs as efficiently as adults can. As a result, there will be a build of the harmful chemicals in the baby’s blood and other tissues and cause devastating damage that can’t be reversed.
The risks of drug and alcohol use during pregnancy depend on several factors, including:
- Type of drug used
- Point during pregnancy at which the drug was used
- Number of times the drug was used
In terms of consequences, using drugs during pregnancy can lead to:
Low birth weight which places the baby at a higher risk for illness, intellectual disability, and even death.
Premature baby increases the risk of having lung and eye problems as well as learning issues in the infant.
Birth defects could include seizure, stroke, and intellectual disabilities.
Drug dependency – since the fetuses can become dependent on the drug(s) coming through the mother, the baby may experience withdrawal symptoms after delivery.
- Sudden Infant Death Syndrome
After pregnancy, many drugs can pass through breast milk and harm the baby.
Affect of Drinking Alcohol During Pregnancy on the Baby
Just as nutrients from food eaten by the mother reach the baby she is carrying, so does alcohol.
Alcohol can have very negative effects on the developing fetus. Since the fetus can’t metabolize alcohol the same way as an adult, the alcohol gets more concentrated in a fetus and can inhibit enough amounts of nutrients and oxygen from reaching the blood and vital organs.
Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause abnormal fetal development and fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). FAS is a congenital condition characterized by mental and physical defects. Infants with FAS may experience withdrawal symptoms of jitteriness, irritability, and poor feeding within 12 hours after delivery.
To protect the baby from alcohol-related danger, the mother should avoid drinking any alcohol during her pregnancy. Alcohol consumption during the first three months of pregnancy is especially dangerous because it is the period when important organs develop.