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Dangers of Drug Use During Pregnancy

Pregnant mothers who use illegal and prescription drugs during pregnancy run the risk of harming their unborn baby. Just what those harmful effects are depends on the drugs used, as well as other factors. The legal system is really cracking down on pregnant addicts who continue to use drugs while pregnant, as more states are passing laws to prosecute them for such.

If you are pregnant or plan on getting pregnant at some point, it is important to know that using drugs during pregnancy can have a harmful effect on you and your baby, as the drugs pass right through the placenta to the fetus. It’s not just the illegal drugs that can cause harm either; prescription pills, nicotine, and caffeine can all have harmful effects on an unborn child.

Past studies indicate that mothers who use drugs during pregnancies have a higher chance of giving birth to babies with various developmental problems. Essentially, if you’re pregnant and you’re taking drugs, your baby is getting those same drugs, which are in such a high dosage to a fetus it can really cause serious damage to the fetus’s forming organs.

Birth defects

Not only does a drug using mother run the risk of having a baby with developmental problems, but also the chances of birth defects, stillborn births and premature babies increases greatly. In fact, studies have shown that mothers who used alcohol, cocaine, or tobacco while pregnant gave birth to babies that experience steady changes in the brain that persist until adolescence.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that babies born to mothers on crack have to contend with mental and physical problems that can last a lifetime. They may have attention problems, lack cognitive abilities and have trouble processing information. Other illegal and prescription drugs can certainly have similar effects. Additionally, a mother who takes illegal drugs while she is pregnant is more apt to experience hepatitis, infections and sexually transmitted infections.


According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, of live births in America, .2 to 1.5 cases of fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) occur. In 2010, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported that 4.4 percent of pregnant women reported using illegal drugs within the past month. Such statistics mean that thousands and thousands of fetuses are in jeopardy of suffering often lifelong health and mental problems as a result of the mothers’ behaviors.

Prison time for drug use during pregnancy

Rennie Gibbs is a prime example of how using drugs during pregnancy can kill a baby. Just 16 years old, Gibbs was charged in 2006 with “depraved heart murder”, as she smoked crack during her pregnancy and her baby was stillborn. Under Mississippi law, Gibbs acted unlawfully and willfully caused the death of her baby by ingesting illegal drugs. The trial has yet to go forth, but reports state that a judge will decide this week if the trial shall go forth or be dismissed. This, as well as other cases, are making being showcased more and more in the media, as the seriousness of drug abuse and pregnancy continues to plague the United States.

Female addicts that become pregnant are faced with a host of questions. Many addicts do not want to harm their babies, yet the power of addiction is quite strong. The best thing these women can do is get help via a drug and/or alcohol rehab program, as there they can safely detox and receive the counseling and support needed to begin a life clean and sober.

If you are struggling with an addiction, whether pregnant or not, please consider reaching out for help as soon as possible. You do not have to live in the grips of addiction any longer. Millions of men and women have successfully overcome their addictions and are now living peaceful and happy lives. Make a commitment today to reaching out for help at a rehab center near you.

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About the Author: Dominica Applegate is dedicated to the art of self-discovery, creative expression, and raw truth.A sought-after writer and content marketer, she founded and runs Life Junkie, an online magazine dedicated to sparking a genuine love + life revolution. When she’s not scribbling up a storm, you can find her devouring books, talking to her cat, and dreaming up all sorts of creative ventures. Her creations include the Overcoming Codependency eCourse and eBook, Recycle Your Pain: It Has a Purpose. Learn more at