Drug Use During Pregnancy Substance abuse doesn\u2019t just negatively impact the life of the person using the drug. Especially when a woman engages in drug use during pregnancy. The effects of drugs and alcohol during pregnancy are well-documented. If you abuse drugs while pregnant, you risk having a premature birth and\/or a baby with serious birth defects. Drug abuse puts the baby at risk of being born with an addiction and can result in lifelong challenges for the infant. Thus, if you are pregnant and addicted to drugs, you should immediately seek help through substances abuse treatment programs. Important Facts About Drug Use During Pregnancy The facts about pregnancy and drugs are startling. According to the 2013 U.S. National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 5.4% of all pregnant women reported drug use, and 9.4% reported alcohol consumption. In surveys, 20% of women reported some alcohol consumption during pregnancy. However, these rates have\u00a0decreased\u00a0in the past 15 years. This is partially due to increased awareness and public education regarding the damaging effects on the developing fetus. Prenatal alcohol exposure may affect many more children than what is reported. Pregnant women often\u00a0underreport substance use\u00a0because they\u2019re afraid of judgment or punishment. Pregnant women also don\u2019t want to risk losing their baby to child protective services. The majority of pregnant women who abuse a drug during pregnancy may also use legal drugs such as alcohol. This can impact the developing baby and lead to\u00a0fetal alcohol syndrome, which is discussed below. The introduction of long-acting oxycodone in the mid-1990s has contributed to a growing trend of opioid misuse (even as a prescription drug). Opioid addiction is currently the most common reason pregnant women seek treatment for drug abuse (38%).\u00a0Research\u00a0indicates that pregnant women also seek treatment for the following drugs: \tMarijuana (20%) \tMethamphetamines (15.6%) \tCocaine (7.4%) \tTranquilizers and sedatives (1.2%) \tHallucinogens and PCP (0.6%) The Effects of Drug Use on the Baby Drugs and alcohol cross the placenta and enter the circulation of the developing fetus. This can result in: \tPremature birth or premature labor \tLow birth weight or growth restriction \tRisk of birth defects involving the heart, kidneys or intestines \tDefects involving the brain, such as learning problems \tMiscarriage Multiple studies have shown an association between pregnant women who used codeine in the first trimester and infants born with congenital heart defects. Drug Use Can Affect a Baby\u2019s Brain Development Some\u00a0studies have shown that drug use during pregnancy can result in deficits in certain brain regions. The research suggests problems related to brain growth as well as in brain regions linked to: \tAttention \tEmotion \tLanguage \tBehavior \tMotor functions \tCognitive functions The effects are not immediately apparent. In fact, many cognitive issues don\u2019t show up until adolescence. For example, some\u00a0research shows that teens whose mothers used cocaine during pregnancy may have issues in various brain regions associated with language, memory, attention, and planning. But more research needs to be done to assess the long-term effects of in-utero exposure. For this reason, it is essential that studies\u00a0follow up with drug-exposed children\u00a0into their teen years. Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome Heroin withdrawal is not fatal to healthy adults. But fetal death is a risk in pregnant women who do not seek treatment for opioid addiction. When a pregnant woman continues to use opioids (or other legal or illicit substances) the baby can experience\u00a0neonatal abstinence syndrome, which includes symptoms such as: \tExcessive or high-pitched crying \tDiarrhea \tVomiting \tBlotchy skin \tStuffy nose or sneezing \tSweating \tFever \tTrembling \tSeizures \tHyperactive reflexes \tQuick breathing \tIrritability \tTrouble sleeping \tExcessive sucking For this reason, addicted pregnant mothers and anyone else who struggles with addiction should seek professional help at an opioid or heroin addiction treatment center. Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Alcohol consumption while pregnant can lead to fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs). This is the\u00a0leading, nonhereditary cause\u00a0of intellectual disability in the Western world. Experts estimate that the full range of FASDs may affect as many as five in 100 schoolchildren. Fetal alcohol syndrome can cause a baby to be born with: \tGrowth problems \tSmall head size \tProblems with vision or hearing \tLow body weight \tNervous system abnormalities \tIntellectual disabilities or delayed cognitive development \tShorter than average height \tPoor coordination \tHeart, kidney, or bone problems \tProblems with sleep \tFacial deformities The Impact of Drug Use on a Child Depends on Different Factors The degree to which illegal or prescription drugs during pregnancy influence the baby\u2019s health and development depends on a few factors, including: \tThe chemical properties of the drug \tDosage \tTiming of exposure \tDuration of exposure \tWhether the expectant mother used a drug alongside alcohol or other drugs Overall, the correlation between pregnancy and drugs does not bode well for the child or its mother.\u00a0 Expectant mothers who use drugs should seek help immediately through drug and alcohol detox center programs. The Effects of Drug Use During Pregnancy on the Mother Substance use in pregnancy can also impact a mother\u2019s physical and emotional health and worsen a mother\u2019s mental health, contributing to depression and anxiety. Experiencing these issues while pregnant can make pregnancy more distressing than it needs to be. If an expectant mother experiences physical issues as a result of drug or alcohol abuse, this can also add undue stress or complicate pregnancies. After giving birth, the mother may suffer if her baby experiences issues. The guilt, shame, and worry may also worsen her mental health and impact her ability to care for her child. Getting Help For Drug Use During Pregnancy Testing for substance abuse is one part of effective prevention and should be done with the cooperation of the expecting mother. Prior to pregnancy and early in the first trimester, health professionals should routinely ask women about their use of alcohol and drugs. This should include prescription opioids and other medications used. Healthcare providers must reassure women that their information will be kept confidential. If you\u2019re struggling with drug abuse during pregnancy, a healthcare provider needs to understand the extent of your problem. This can be done in a couple of different ways. The first is through private conversations. The second is through urine tests, which can detect the following drugs: \tCocaine \tAmphetamines \tMarijuana \tBarbiturates \tOpiates It\u2019s important to note that this method only detects recent drug use and doesn\u2019t provide data on the quantity or frequency of usage. Also, keep in mind that alcohol can be detected by urine screenings,\u00a0but only within 24 hours of intake. Practicing obstetrician-gynecologists must be informed and should work with addiction specialists\u00a0to determine appropriate treatment, including\u00a0detox\u00a0and rehab. Moving Forward in Recovery Motherhood presents both challenges and great joys. Drug use during pregnancy is unhealthy for you and your unborn child. Living drug-free will help you better prepare for personal and parental success. If you are pregnant\u2014or planning to be\u2014and struggling with drug addiction, talk about it with your physician. Make the decision to start substance abuse treatment and detox sooner rather than later. This will provide your child with a healthier start in life and help prevent dangerous drug-related health complications. We know pregnancy is difficult and that adding substance abuse to the mix makes it even more of a challenge. But it is possible to detox while pregnant. For the safety of the mother and child, it should be done under the care of a multidisciplinary team with specialized skills and treatment options. The first step is to seek help. We can offer that help as well as numerous addiction treatment resources. Call Promises Treatment Centers today at .