Pregnancy is a very special period in a life of every woman. When a woman is pregnant, she shares everything with her unborn baby. Everything a woman eats, breathes and drinks is aimed to support the growing life inside of her body. If a woman smokes, drinks alcohol or uses drugs, she also endangers the life and the development of her child. Pregnant women should stay away from any kind of substance abuse, including alcohol, cigarettes and illicit drugs. These substances can seriously harm the baby causing it to become born too small or prematurely, possibly with birth defects, learning and behavioral problems. Women are strongly encouraged to share their problem with medical workers and ask for help in overcoming their addiction. Health care providers can recommend programs to help them quit this habit and deliver a healthy baby.
About 4 percent of pregnant women in the United States are using some type of illicit drugs. Most of the women are using marijuana during pregnancy, believing this is not as seriously dangerous drug as ecstasy, methamphetamine and other illegal substances. However, marijuana may dramatically slow fetal growth and lead to premature delivery. The effects of marijuana use are recognizable even after the baby is born. For example, baby may express withdrawal-like symptoms, be very irritable, cry excessively or even tremble. These infants are often hypersensitive and have very poor sleeping patterns.Ecstasy and amphetamines risks
The use of Ecstasy and amphetamines is associated with congenital heart defects and skeletal defects in female children. Babies exposed to these drugs may have a foot defect present at birth, known as a clubfoot. One or both feet may be clubbed in such a way that soles of the feet touch each other. These children are often born underweight and with smaller than the normal head circumference. Other pregnancy complications associated with these drugs include placental problems, cleft lip/plate, and withdrawal-like symptoms after delivery (jitteriness, drowsiness and breathing problems).
Women who use heroin in pregnancy are risking most severe complications. Fetuses exposed to heroin are usually slowly growing, and they are at increased risk of premature rupture of the membranes, premature birth and stillbirth. About half of these babies are born with low weight and often suffering from various severe health problems such as problems with breathing, heart, and lifelong disabilities. Babies are born with withdrawal symptoms, including high fever, sneezing, irritability, vomiting, diarrhea and seizures. They are also at the highest risk of the sudden infant death syndrome.