How Substance use during Pregnancy affects your Baby?

During pregnancy, the use of substances such as alcohol, tobacco and other drugs can cause serious harm to your baby like preterm birth, stillbirth, low birth weight, etc. When you use these substances, they can cross the placenta and the baby is also exposed to them during pregnancy.

When a woman is pregnant she is not just eating for two rather breathing and drinking for two. So, it is very important to plan the diet and it should be a healthy one.

Substance Use and their Adverse Effects on Pregnancy


If alcohol is consumed occasionally, it may not harm you but during pregnancy, it is completely prohibited and should not be consumed. Drinking alcohol is associated with high rates of spontaneous abortion, stillbirth, low birth weight, lifelong physical and behavioural problems in children, fetal alcohol syndrome and neurodevelopmental problems.

If you are planning to have a pregnancy then stop drinking before you conceive. But, if your pregnancy is unplanned, you should stop drinking as soon as you suspect you are pregnant.


Cigarette smoking whether active or passive increases the chance of perinatal and infant morbidity and mortality rates. If you smoke during pregnancy, you are likely to have a very small baby because continued exposure to a smoke-filled environment is related to fetal growth restriction.

Nicotine is a very dangerous chemical in tobacco and keeps the foetus deprived of nourishment and also increases the risk of

  • Premature or stillbirth
  • Preterm labour
  • Premature rupture of the membranes
  • Placenta previa
  • Abruptio placenta
  • Sometimes fetal death due to decreased placental perfusion
  • Fetal hypoxia

It is better to quit smoking during pregnancy and thereafter because it has many health hazards.


Cocaine is a white crystalline powder that is snorted or is diluted before being injected. It affects the brain of the user. Cocaine is very harmful to the growing foetus during pregnancy because it causes preterm labour, spontaneous abortion, intrauterine growth restriction, low birth weight, intracranial haemorrhage and abruptio placenta.

After birth, a baby who has been exposed to cocaine during pregnancy may experience withdrawal symptoms.

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It is commonly known as marijuana. This is smoked in the form of loosely rolled cigarettes. Its frequent use during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage, low birth weight, premature birth, behavioural and learning problems and developmental delays.


Heroin is a narcotic drug that is available in powder form varies in colour from white to dark brown. Previously, it was used intravenously, intramuscularly, subcutaneously but nowadays pure heroine is being supplied which the users snort or smoke.

The use of heroin during pregnancy is associated with intrauterine growth restriction, prematurity, withdrawal symptoms in the child, intracranial haemorrhage and babies can also be addicted to heroin after birth.

Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD)

It is a type of hallucinogen and is taken orally. The common physical effects of LSD are dilated pupils, increased heart rate, profuse sweating, decrease body temperature, mood changes occurring within an hour of taking LSD. If it is used frequently during pregnancy, can lead to birth defects.

Methamphetamine (crank)

This is related to amphetamine which increases the heart rate of the mother and the foetus both. It can cause the baby to get less oxygen leading to low birth weight. It can give rise to

  • Miscarriage
  • Withdrawal symptoms in the baby
  • Abruptio placenta
  • Premature labour

All pregnant women should cut down or quit the above-mentioned drugs which are harmful to the foetus. Contact your healthcare provider to get more information about substance use and its effects on pregnancy.


In the above post, we have discussed different substances used during pregnancy and their effects on the baby. The use of substances such as alcohol, tobacco, cocaine, heroin, cannabis, narcotics, etc can lead to low birth weight, withdrawal symptoms in the baby after birth, babies addiction to the drugs, premature labour and birth defects. If you want a safe pregnancy with a healthy baby you need to quit all the drugs and take only those prescribed by the doctor.

Thank you all!!! Hope you find this useful.

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