Addiction and Pregnancy: Consequences of Prenatal Drug Use

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A number of new studies are implicating prenatal smoking and drinking in the development of number of later health problems for children.

The Studies

Smoking and Pregnancy

  • A study of Finnish adolescents found that those whose mothers had smoked while pregnant were more likely than their unexposed peers to require psychiatric drugs as children or young adults. Those exposed to prenatal smoking were at an increased risk for use of all psychiatric drugs, in particular drugs used to treat ADHD, depression, and addiction.
  • An assessment of over 800 children looked at the relationship between sleep problems and prenatal exposure to cocaine, nicotine, opioids, marijuana, and alcohol. Only prenatal nicotine exposure was found to be associated with sleep problems in children during their first 12 years of life.

Drinking and Pregnancy

  • A new study found that drinking during pregnancy increases the child's risk for developing acute myeloid leukemia by 56%. The risk stayed constant over all stages of pregnancy, although more alcohol use was associated with greater risk.

Why Is This Important?

The dangers of drug use during pregnancy are widely publicized, but people often disagree on the extent to which pregnant women should abstain from substance use. If you're addicted to nicotine or alcohol, quitting for nine months can seem like an impossible task, but these studies show how far-reaching the impact of prenatal exposure to drugs and alcohol can be. If you're pregnant or considering pregnancy and struggling to quit drinking or smoking, maybe this evidence will help push you in the right direction.

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