Pregnancy and the Dangers of Drug Use

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Dangers of Drug Use i

Pregnancy and the Dangers of Drug Use

Sarah McVicker
Psychology 201 Lifespan Development
Professor Sally Vyain
October 7, 2007

Pregnancy and the Dangers of Drug Use
It is very important for a mother to lead a healthy lifestyle when she becomes pregnant. She must eat healthy, get lots of rest, and exercise regularly. It is even more imperative that she avoids things that may harm her or potentially her baby. Amongst things she must avoid, alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs are the most vital.

For a pregnant woman, drug use and abuse is twice as dangerous as for someone who is not pregnant. First, drugs will harm her own health, interfering with her ability to support her pregnancy and make the best decisions for her baby. Second, some drugs can directly impair prenatal development.

All illegal drugs, such as cocaine and heroin, can cause dangers to a pregnant woman. Not only illegal substances, but also legal drugs such as alcohol and tobacco, are typically just as dangerous. Even medical drugs, both prescription and over-the-counter, can be harmful to both the mother and her baby. Pregnant women should avoid any and all contact with all of them as much as possible; from the time she plans to become pregnant or learns that she is pregnant.

All drugs are harmful for the entire duration of a woman's pregnancy, however certain drugs are particularly damaging at specific stages of development. Most of the body organs and systems of the baby are formed within the first ten weeks or so of pregnancy. During this stage, some drugs-alcohol in particular-can cause malformations of such parts of the developing fetus as the limbs, heart, and facial features.

After about the tenth week, the fetus should grow rapidly in weight and size. At this stage, certain drugs may damage organs that are still developing, such as the eyes, as well as the nervous system. Continuing drug use also increases the risk of miscarriage and premature...
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