Just as drug and alcohol use harms your body and brain, it can also have a devastating impact on unborn children. In pregnancy, your baby receives all of its nutrients from you. As both food and oxygen travel through the umbilical cord and to the placenta without dilution or filtration, it’s important to remember that everything you ingest or inhale goes straight to the baby. Unlike an adult’s more complex digestive system, the placenta isn’t able to filter out the good and bad components of what it receives, which means it’s solely up to you as the mother to provide the vitamins and nutrients the baby needs to be healthy. If a mother opts to consume drugs or alcohol during or even immediately before pregnancy, the results can be disastrous. Chemicals that are regularly filtered out by the adult body can actually accumulate in the fetus, and can cause lasting and irreparable damage and even death. The severity of complications depends entirely on the type, frequency, and time of drug use, but general issues include:
- low birth weights
- premature births
- sudden infant death syndrome
- and quite possibly drug dependency in the actual baby
A low birth weight puts a baby at a much higher risk of illness, mental challenges, and death. Premature birth increases the probability of developmental learning issues, as well as complications with the lungs and eyes. And drug dependency in the fetus itself can lead to withdrawal symptoms in the baby after birth. One doesn’t have to be a chronic drug user or addict to negatively affect an unborn child, either. In fact, studies indicate that just one instance of drug use at anytime close to pregnancy can severely debilitate the development of the child, and often leads to permanent birth defects or a miscarriage altogether. Even after pregnancy, remnants of drugs still in the system can manifest themselves in breast milk, further harming the baby. Alcohol use is very much the same. While alcohol doesn’t contain quite as many chemicals as many drugs, they are all just about as toxic. Drinking alcohol at anytime near the pregnancy process can also taint any blood flow to the baby and cause even more serious complications. The best case scenario when it comes to pregnancy is to exercise the utmost of caution with everything you consume or inhale, and to not even go near illicit substances. Your unborn baby doesn’t have the luxury of defending him/herself, so it’s up to you as the mother to do it for them.