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06 August 2015

Substance Use While Pregnant and Breastfeeding

Substance Use While Pregnant and Breastfeeding

Research shows that use of tobacco, alcohol, or illicit drugs or abuse of prescription drugs by pregnant women can have severe health consequences for infants. This is because many substances pass easily through the placenta, so substances that a pregnant woman takes also, to some degree, reach the baby (Neonatal abstinence syndrome, 2014). Recent research shows that smoking tobacco or marijuana, taking prescription pain relievers, or using illegal drugs during pregnancy is associated with double or even triple the risk of stillbirth (Tobacco, drug use in pregnancy, 2013).

Risks of Stillbirth from Substance Use in Pregnancy

  • Tobacco use—1.8 to 2.8 times greater risk of stillbirth, with the highest risk found among the heaviest smokers
  • Marijuana use—2.3 times greater risk of stillbirth
  • Evidence of any stimulant, marijuana, or prescription pain reliever use—2.2 times greater risk of stillbirth
  • Passive exposure to tobacco—2.1 times greater risk of stillbirth
Source: Tobacco, drug use in pregnancy, 2013
 
Regular drug use can produce dependence in the newborn, and the baby may go through withdrawal upon birth. Most research in this area has focused on the effects of opioid misuse (prescription pain relievers or heroin). However, more recent data has shown that use of alcohol, barbiturates, benzodiazepines, and caffeine during pregnancy may also cause the infant to show withdrawal symptoms at birth (Hudak et al., 2012).

The type and severity of an infant's withdrawal symptoms depend on the drug(s) used, how long and how often the birth mother used, how her body breaks the drug down, and whether the infant was born full term or prematurely (Neonatal abstinence syndrome, 2014).

Symptoms of drug withdrawal in a newborn can develop immediately or up to 14 days after birth and can include (Hudak, 2012):
  • blotchy skin coloring
  • diarrhea
  • excessive or high-pitched crying
  • abnormal sucking reflex
  • fever
  • hyperactive reflexes
  • increased muscle tone
  • irritability
  • poor feeding
  • rapid breathing
  • increased heart rate
  • seizures
  • sleep problems
  • slow weight gain
  • stuffy nose and sneezing
  • sweating
  • trembling
  • vomiting
Effects of using some drugs could be long-term and possibly fatal to the baby (Neonatal abstinence syndrome, 2014):
  • low birth weight
  • birth defects
  • small head circumference
  • premature birth
  • sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
Sumber: drugabuse.gov

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