How Smoking, Drinking, & Drugs Affect You & Your Baby

Image of pregnant women holding a glass of wine.

When you smoke, drink, or take drugs, your baby does, too! Smoking, drinking, and/or taking drugs can increase your risk for problems. Your baby is at more risk for problems, too.

Pregnant women who smoke have more chances for these problems:

•  Vaginal bleeding

•  Ectopic pregnancy

•  Miscarriage or stillbirth

•  Preterm birth

Babies born to pregnant women who smoke have more chances for these problems:

•  Low birth weight

•  Crib death

•  Less able to fight infections, like colds, after being born

•  Some may learn more slowly when they go to school

Drinking Alcohol

Pregnant women who drink alcohol have more chances for these problems:

•  Miscarriage

•  Stillbirth

Babies born to pregnant women who drink alcohol have more chances for these problems:

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) - when the mother drinks a lot. With FAS, the baby is apt to have one or more of these things:

•  Low birth weight

•  Mental problems (the baby could be retarded)

•  Behavior problems

•  Learning problems

•  Health problems

•  Body defects

{Note: No one knows a safe level of alcohol for pregnant women. It is best not to drink at all.}

Taking Drugs

From cocaine (also called “crack”):

•  Early miscarriage

•  High blood pressure

•  Heavy bleeding late in pregnancy

•  Sudden death, heart attack, or stroke

•  If the mother shares needles with other drug users, she also is at more risk for Hepatitis B and HIV/AIDS.

From heroin and other narcotics:

•  Preterm birth

•  Stillbirth

•  If the mother shares needles with other drug users, she is at more risk for Hepatitis B and HIV/AIDS as well.

From Marijuana – (also called “pot” or “grass”):

•  Changes in mood and sense of reality

•  Preterm birth

From cocaine (also called “crack”):

•  Low birth weight

•  Slow growth

•  Tend to have smaller than normal heads and brains

•  May have brain injury

•  Crib death

•  Body defects

•  Learning problems

•  Behavior problems

From heroin and other narcotics:

•  Low birth weight

•  Slow growth

•  Addicted to the drug when born

•  Trouble thinking and learning

•  Behavior problems

From Marijuana – (also called “pot” or “grass”):

•  Low birth weight

•  May have behavior problems

This website is not meant to substitute for expert medical advice or treatment. Follow your doctor’s or health care provider’s advice if it differs from what is given in this guide.

 

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