Effects of Drug Use on Infants

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ECE – Exceptionalities
Research Paper

Effects of Drug Use during Pregnancy on Children

Being pregnant means more than just carrying a child in uteri for nine months. Pregnant women must watch what they put into their bodies because it will directly affect the life of their unborn child. Unborn children are totally helpless to their mothers’ actions and totally dependent on everything they do. All pregnant women need to be aware of the consequences of using drugs during pregnancy; drugs such as, cocaine, heroin, cigarettes, methamphetamine, and marijuana. All drugs illegal or not could have critical and long lasting effects on children throughout their whole life.

What are drugs? Drugs are chemicals that can make you change the way the body works. Some drugs are worse than others but no matter which one used, during pregnancy all drugs have dreadful effects on the unborn child. The drugs cocaine, heroin, tobacco/cigarettes, methamphetamines and marijuana can affect children in different ways; however, they all should be avoided during pregnancy. Mothers need to think about their unborn child and the adverse effects using drugs will have on them not only as infants but as young children and young adults as well.

Cocaine is a strongly addictive stimulant that directly affects the brain. Cocaine is one of the oldest drugs known to this day (Barbara L. Thompson, 2009). There is no safe amount of cocaine for a woman who is pregnant because any cocaine taken will transfer to the baby as well (Drug Babies and the Effects of Drug Abuse During Pregnancy, 2011). Heroine is also a highly addictive drug and it is the most abused and fast acting of the opiate group. Heroine, processed from morphine, is derived from certain poppy plants. Heroin will cross over to the baby through the placenta and cause an unborn baby to be dependent on the drug. Tobacco/cigarettes are a non illicit drug and the most common drug used among pregnant woman. Tobacco products have been linked to low birth weight and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Methamphetamines are highly addictive substances with powerful central nervous system stimulant properties (Drug Babies and the Effects of Drug Abuse During Pregnancy, 2011). Methamphetamines are considered a major drug of abuse and can cause low birth weight, miscarriages and could lead to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (Drug Babies and the Effects of Drug Abuse During Pregnancy, 2011). Marijuana is the most commonly abused illicit drug in America today. Women who use marijuana on a daily basis will operate at subliminal levels because it directly affects the way the brain works. When using marijuana during pregnancy the mother is more likely to have a miscarriage or a low birth weight baby. No matter which drug the mother is using it can be detrimental to the unborn baby’s health and should be avoided. Using drugs during pregnancy not only affects the baby a birth but it can affect that child for the rest of his/her life. The child can experience many difficulties in when he/she goes to school as well. Each drug is different and affects children differently. Cocaine may cause drug dependency and withdrawal symptoms at birth, as well physical and mental problems, especially if the mother used cocaine during the first three months of pregnancy. There is a higher risk of hypertension, heart problems, developmental retardation and learning difficulties (Gale A. Richardson, 2010). It has been reported that prenatal cocaine exposure is linked to cognitive and neuropsychological development and school functioning in 6 to 8 year olds (Gale A. Richardson, 2010). A baby who has been exposed to prenatal cocaine use by the mother is more likely to be irritable, jittery and have an irregular sleeping pattern, visual problems and problems with sensory stimulation (Drug Babies and the Effects of Drug Abuse During Pregnancy, 2011). During pregnancy cocaine crosses into the placenta and enters the baby’s blood...
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