Pregnancy and Substance Abuse

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The Dangers of Drug Abuse During Pregnancy:
Prenatal Developmental Issues That Begin With Substance Abuse

Abstract
Substance abuse is a common issue among pregnant women and is tragic as it not only affects the woman, but can have lasting effects on her unborn child. Specifically, substance abuse during pregnancy can lead to premature birth, low birth weight, significant cognitive and behavioral issues, and even miscarriage. Pregnant women who use substances such as cocaine, heroin, marijuana, methadone, methamphetamine, and other addictive substances put themselves and their babies at great risk; however, there is increasing evidence that even substances such as alcohol and cigarettes, which are commonly thought of as less dangerous than the previously mentioned substances, are extremely harmful to the newborn. Some forms of treatment have been proven effective in lowering the risks of these adverse pregnancy outcomes; however, many factors influence treatment effectiveness. The most important factors to consider regarding treatment involve the waiting period for treatment and the existence of an aftercare plan. Treatment providers should be educated about the special accommodations required for pregnant women. The Dangers of Drug Abuse During Pregnancy:

Prenatal Developmental Issues That Begin with Substance Abuse
Pregnancy is a beautiful experience that will be the beginning of the shaping and development of an individual, the preparation period for bringing a new being into the world. Unfortunately, this sacred period of time is not immune to tragedy, mistakes, and heartache, especially when addiction or even casual substance use is involved. Pregnant women are not only eating for two, but are also damaging two bodies and souls when they choose to abuse substances during pregnancy. Substance abuse during pregnancy is becoming more prevalent, with substance abusing women of child bearing age accounting for 40% of the treatment population; this does not include those who are abusing substances but have not yet reached out for help or those who may never seek treatment (Mayet et al, 2008). Pregnant women who use substances such as cocaine, heroin, marijuana, methadone, methamphetamine, and other addictive substances put themselves and their babies at great risk; however, there is increasing evidence that even substances such as alcohol and cigarettes, which are commonly thought of as less dangerous than the previously mentioned substances, are extremely harmful to the newborn (Feldman, 2011). Additional statistics show that 50% of adult pregnancies are unplanned, and most women do not know they are pregnant until after one month (Kurgans, 2011). Therefore, it is common for women to use substances before they are even aware that they are pregnant, and by one month damage could have already been done to development of the fetus. Additionally, pregnancy is often a consequence of failed judgment during a period of substance abuse, and use of more than one substance is the norm among the substance abusing population (Kurgans, 2011). Substance use and abuse during pregnancy can have significant adverse affects on the baby to include premature birth, miscarriage, low birth weight, and many other possible cognitive and behavioral issues; however, some forms of treatment have been proven successful in lowering the risk of these issues. Possible Adverse Pregnancy Outcomes: Illicit and Licit Substance Effects

Abstinence from illicit substances as well as harmful licit substances is necessary due to proven correlation of substance abuse during pregnancy with adverse pregnancy outcomes. A study conducted in 2010 found significantly more preterm births with pregnant women who used substances during pregnancy, specifically reporting that 25% of drug abusing women gave birth preterm (Dodd et al). This statistic is paralleled in a study done in 2007 which reported that 23% of children born to substance abusing mothers...
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