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Drug abuse and nursing

Even though breastfeeding represents the best way for a baby to grow and develop because mother's milk is rich in all the essential nutrients, contains plenty of different vitamins and minerals and is abundant in antibodies which provide with proper protections against infections, it is also possible for the milk to contain different harmful substances particularly if mother is a drug addict. Majority of illicit drugs as well as prescribed medications can pass into mother's mild and then, due to breastfeeding, enter the baby's body causing different damage or even causing addiction of the baby.

It is, therefore, recommended for all women who are pregnant and who breastfeed to avoid drugs of any kind as well as to stay away from certain prescribed medications that may cause both, addiction and harm to an unborn child or a child that is breastfed.

Effects of Different Drugs while Nursing

  • Nicotine
Nicotine is normally found in cigarettes and mothers who smoke can easily pass nicotine while breastfeeding into the child's bloodstream. Such babies, due to the presence of nicotine in their blood, are more susceptible to colic and are also prone to respiratory infections. Because of that women are supposed to quit smoking while breastfeeding if they have not managed to do so during their pregnancy.
  • Caffeine
Caffeine is another potentially detrimental substance which can be easily passed through mother's milk. Women who breastfeed are due to limit the intake of caffeine to no more than 300mg per day.
  • Alcohol
Alcohol is another harmful substance which can be found in mother's milk. Scientists have not managed to determine the exact amount of alcohol mothers can consume without causing no harm to their children. Because of that alcoholic mothers are advised to feed their babies with a bottle.
  • Marijuana
Mothers who indulge in marijuana smoking expose their babies to risk associated with lethargy, sedation, weakness and poor feeding habits. These effects are obvious in mothers who smoke marijuana on regular bases. Those who indulge in marijuana smoke every now and then should abstain from breastfeeding for at least several hours until the effects of the drug disappear.
  • Cocaine
Cocaine is a serious drug and should be avoided at all times because it can cause trembling, dilated pupils, tachycardia, hypertension and irritability in a breastfed baby.
  • Heroin
Heroin-addicted mothers are forbidden to breastfeed since heroin can easily pass into the milk and eventually cause addiction in the baby.
  • Amphetamines
Mothers who abuse amphetamines expose their child to a variety of detrimental effects including agitation, lack of sleep etc. Such children are also prone to prolonged and intensive crying.
  • Opiates
Opiates such as morphine, codeine and meperidine can pass into mother's milk but only in small amounts. However, in spite of that fact it is not advisable to breastfeed a child while using any of them. At least consult the doctor first and see what to do while on treatment with such medications.

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