Illegal street drugs are harmful to both baby and mother, however as the mother is already formed, it does much more damage to the baby, unborn and after it is born. Drugs can be irreversible once they begin to damage the forming baby. There are many things that can happen to the unborn baby, from cutting off oxygen to the baby to premature labor. Every drug can have a different outcome and one wonders why a mother wouldn’t get the help she needs if she were pregnant. Why would they put their baby at risk to start a life with difficulties when they can give their child a healthy start instead? The American Pregnancy Association explains how some drugs can affect an unborn fetus as well as babies post delivery.
Marijuana, while seeming like a low level drug of choice can still do damage to a fetus, since it does cross the placenta and reduces the amount of oxygen that is delivered to the baby. Weed can also increase carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide in the blood to the baby and cut down their oxygen levels, and also increases the chance of a miscarriage. Babies subjected to marijuana can be born with a low birth weight or even be born early, and afterwards can be subjected to developmental delays as well as have behavioral and learning difficulties to have to deal with.
Cocaine, another drug that crosses the placenta can enter the baby’s circulation system and while in an adult it can be secreted quicker, in a baby, it is eliminated very slowly. While a pregnant mother is carrying a baby, she can do damage to her baby without even thinking that she is pregnant, because within the first early months of pregnancy, cocaine can increase her chances of miscarriage. As the mother develops further into her pregnancy, more damages can occur such as, placental abruption. Placental abruption while dangerous for the baby, can also hurt the mother, fore she can bleed to death. It can also lead to early delivery of the fetus and/or death of the fetus as well. The Organization of Teratology Information Services (OTIS) states that birth defects are increased when the mother has used cocaine often during her pregnancy compared to one or two times. There is a 25 % risk of premature delivery, stated by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecology (ACOG), when they use cocaine. After delivery there are continued effects on the baby that can be noticed after delivery, such as: babies will have a smaller size head than a normal baby and also their growth will be delayed, and babies will have withdrawal symptoms after delivery. Withdrawal symptoms are not much different than an adult that is quitting the drug, however it is more dangerous with a baby, because their systems are more fragile. They still have the symptoms such as the shakes, trouble sleeping, muscle spasms, and trouble with eating. As the child progresses with age, the parents should also keep an eye out for learning difficulties as well as other defects.
Very much the same as Cocaine, Heroin is another drug that is extremely addictive and can cross the placenta directly to the unborn baby. The baby again can become addicted as well to the drug, which will affect them after they are born. Heroin can have many different effects on an unborn fetus, such as have greater chance of early delivery, be born with low birth weight, as well as other medical issues. Hypoglycemia, which is when the blood sugar is too low, is something to worry about, as well as bleeding in the brain and death. Withdrawal is also a possibility after delivery and need to watch out for petulance, seizures, diarrhea, raised body temperature, sleep abnormalities, and joint stiffness.
PCP (Phencyclidine) and LSD (Lysergic Acid Diethylamide) are both members of the Hallucinogen family and can cause the user to act abnormally and sadistically. Use of PCP can be hazardous to the unborn fetus because it can lead to underweight babies, lack of muscle control, brain damage and if used uncontrollably also withdrawal symptoms. Symptoms of withdrawal can be identified by exhaustion with seizure like shakes every once in a while.
Methamphetamine, very much similar in chemical makeup to amphetamine, can elevate the heart rate of both mother and baby. While pregnant, the symptoms related to methamphetamines are, similar to the symptoms of cocaine use. Speed can reduce the levels of oxygen and can cause the mothers to deliver smaller babies. There is also the chance of early delivery, miscarriage and placental abruption. Addiction is a big worry with methamphetamine use because they can suffer symptoms such as, seizures, not able to sleep, muscle ticks as well as unable to feed regularly.
Ecstasy, another drug that can be hazardous to an unborn fetus, is proven to be at an increased risk of birth defects such as congenital heart disease as well as other abnormalities, according to the website, Ecstasy.org. It is stated in this article that out of one hundred thirty six babies that had moms that took ecstasy while pregnant, seventy four of them took strictly ecstasy and the other sixty two had used a combination of ecstasy and other drugs. Some of the malformations that were occurring were, club foot and congenital heart disease. Many of them were using in early months of pregnancy before they were even aware of the pregnancy.
Although alcohol is not considered as dangerous as other drugs, alcohol can still do just as much damage to an unborn fetus. Drinking alcohol while being pregnant can cause Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) which can cause deformities such as facial features and deformed teeth, and mental retardation as well. Women should stay away from drinking any amount of alcohol during pregnancy to avoid these deformities and others.
Depending on what state you live in, there are different laws that are used towards child welfare and how they handle drug use during your pregnancy. Some states will test you throughout your pregnancy and report it as well, while others are only required to test you. If you are one mother who is doing drugs while carrying an unborn child, be aware `that if the state you live in is one where they test you and report, expect those test results to be used against you by the child welfare association in your state. Some states do consider the fact of using drugs while consciously aware that you are pregnant, a form of child abuse and will force you to sign over parental rights to that child once it is delivered and then there are states that will force you to enter an addiction treatment program as well. You should really check out how your state of residence handles things like this before you are pregnant or at least quit drugs before you go to the doctors, if not for your sake for the sake of your unborn child.
Babies are a symbol of love and are supposed to be an extension of yourself and your family. Why would you consciously subject your baby to the dangers of illegal drugs and alcohol before they even get a chance to start a life of their own. This world is overpopulated with babies that are addicted from birth to drugs or have parents that are drug addicts and can’t control their addiction. We really need to start paying attention and getting help for the drug addictions when the babies are at stake.