The Effects of Drugs on a Baby

Many women in the USA use drugs during the pregnancy period. They use the preparations that cause mental and physical deviations of babies and can have a negative impact on children's life. The consumption of illegal drugs like cocaine, marijuana, heroin, methamphetamine and amphetamine causes the same negative effects to a fetus as the use of legal goods like alcohol and cigarettes does. This paper describes the symptoms of drug impact; moreover, the paper provides a detailed description of the effects on the brain and the central nervous system of the baby. Indeed, the drug addiction of infants remains for many years; however, some children can have a normal and happy life after medical and social care.

The birth of a child is one of the most important sacraments on the Earth and many women want to have children. However, some pregnant women represent drug addicts and continue using drugs during the pregnancy period. As a result, the negative impact of drugs causes complications for a woman, a fetus and a growing child. This paper will discuss the effects of drugs on a fetus and the child development, the likelihood of substance abuse during babys life and the possibility to have a normal life.


The Impact of Drugs on a Fetus

Umbilical cord and placenta are two components that link the mother and a baby. Food, medicine, and all the substances that enter womans body are shared with a fetus. Moreover, the drugs can permeate to the fetus through a placenta as well. Therefore, the chemicals and toxins accumulate and cause irreversible consequences and damages. The type of preparation, the point at which the injection was made and the duration of drug consumption are the factors that can have negative effect on the fetus. Stillbirth, miscarriage, premature birth, low birth weight, small size and birth defects of a newborn, drug dependency and syndrome of sudden infant death are the results of mother drug usage. Additionally, the low weight causes higher risk of illness and death; the diseases of eye and lungs represent the results of premature birth. Stroke and seizure are consequences of birth defects. Furthermore, all the factors impair a mental activity of a baby. Limbs and organs of a fetus are the most vulnerable during the early period of pregnancy. Moreover, a single drug use can cause the fatal consequences. Particularly, they represent miscarriage or birth defect. Additionally, the Healthline Editorial Team states that drug use later in pregnancy can affect the development of baby's central nervous system. After pregnancy, many drugs can pass through breast milk and harm the baby. Hence, the usage of any kind of drugs potentially increases the risk of complications.

Drug Effects

Marijuana, cocaine, opiates (narcotics), heroin, methadone and amphetamines represent the most widespread kinds of drugs. During the consumption of marijuana, the babys bowel starts to move, which causes early onset of childbirth and fetal distress. Moreover, the addiction can result in various behavioral problems, poor growth and breathing problems. Moreover, the preparation spreads quickly and penetrates through the breast milk. The consumption of cocaine can be the reason for poor growth, stroke, deformed limbs and damaged brain, abnormalities of urinary and reproductive systems, syndrome of sudden infant death and behavioral problems. Furthermore, the drug can spread into the milk of a woman during the feeding process. Neonatal death and problems with growth are the main effects of the consumption of opiates. Moreover, the consumption of heroin is the reason for seizures, vomiting, irritability, poor feeding, diarrhea and high-pitched crying after child's birth; thus, the child may need medication and care to relieve the symptoms. In fact, it should be noted, if a woman shares needles, she should be tested for HIV and hepatitis. These infections can also cause complications to her baby. Moreover, heroin can have negative impact on a baby during the feeding period. Methadone is a narcotic similar to heroin; however, it did not have such a profound negative impact on the health of a child. Moreover, the consumption of not more than 20 milligrams of methadone per day is compatible during the breast-feeding period. The amphetamines can result in a fetus death in utero and growth problems. Moreover, this preparation should not be consumed during the breast-feeding period.

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Drugs Impact on the Brain

In fact, it should be noted that each drug has a negative impact on the brain of the fetus and causes unpleasant consequences during the early childhood. The chemical neurotransmitters play an important role in the coordination of brain circuits and neurons development. The modulation of the receptors and transporters by the psychoactive drugs is mostly expressed in brain development during different periods of pregnancy. Thompson, Levitt, and Stanwood state that the presence of these proteins in the developing brain underlies the well-documented impact of prenatal drug exposure on brain architecture, chemistry and neurobehavioral function. Particularly, cocaine is the psychostimulant and it reaches the dopaminergic monoaminergic transporters. Moreover, cocaine prevents the pre-synaptic cell to uptake extracellular monamines. The excessive stimulation of dopamine receptors and excess neurotransmitter into the synaptic cleft are the results of cocaine usage. Five known dopamine receptors exist in hypothalamus, brainstem, prefrontal cortex and CNS. Additionally, dopamine system develops at the early period of pregnancy and it is rarely sensitive to exogenous manipulation. Indeed, the children exposed to cocaine in utero felt severe phenotype. The emotional disorders of infants can cause death from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Moreover, the children have attention deficit disorder (ADHD). The studies show that long-term effects of cocaine usage cause negative impact on attention and cognitive systems located in the prefrontal cortex and midbrain. Hence, the consumption of cocaine causes cellular, molecular and permanent behavioral changes, in particular, GABA content, calcium binding protein expression, pyramidal cells morphological changes. These and other studies show that the second period of pregnancy can be more vulnerable. Furthermore, these processes change the basic processes of neocortical development, including migration and sell production.

Methamphetamine and amphetamine also belong to psychostimulants ; in contrast to cocaine, they reach the monoaminergic system. These preparations increase the release of norepinephrine, serotonin and dopamine in the synaptic cleft. Methamphetamine belongs to a methyl group that results in penetration through lipid membranes. The drug causes the decrease in the activity and school achievements by increasing the stress and stimulating low weight. Moreover, methamphetamine causes functional consequence as sensory-motor coordination that can be transmitted to the future generations. In fact, it should be noted that alcohol and smoking belong to legal drugs; however, they also have a negative impact on a fetus in a womb. According to Boyle, the infants born to mothers who chronically abuse alcohol also may present with withdrawal symptoms, including tremors, wakefulness and restlessness, excessive crying, hypertonia, excessive startling, and opisthotonos. Additionally, irritability, jitteriness and poor feeding of infants represent the main symptoms of alcohol abuse. Moreover, small head, dental malformations, facial abnormalities, intellectual disability, deformed limbs and fingers, behavioral disorders, heart problems, speech difficulties, vision impairment and many other possible effects are the results of alcohol abuse. The first three months of pregnancy are critically important and drinking alcohol is extremely dangerous during this period. All the organs of a baby are forming and developing during this period; therefore, the woman should be extremely prudent of the child's health.

The Impact of Drugs on a Child through the Years

A fetus can be damaged in the womb due to the drugs; moreover, the child can experience many negative effects after the birth. First, they are domestic factors. Actually, it should be noted that if a woman used the drugs during the pregnancy, she would most likely continue such actions at the childhood period. These facts cause unfavorable psycho-emotional atmosphere at home, unsanitary, the lack of adequate nutrition and medical care. Moreover, a child can have deformed limbs, damaged organs and brain, in particular. These facts have an impact on the future life of a baby. Particularly, the likelihood of permanent disability is quite significant; the brain damages often result in mental retardation, problems related to school achievement and growth that are observed for many years. Additionally, low weight produces the high risk of illnesses. According to the Healthline Editorial Team, premature birth increases the risk of lung, eye, and learning problems in the infant.

Drug Dependence of Fetus

The Healthline Editorial Team states that if a woman uses heroin during pregnancy, her baby may be born addicted to the drug. They may experience a severe, life-threatening withdrawal syndrome after delivery. Tremulousness, irregular sleep patterns, and irritability represent the results of damage of the central nervous system. The muscles of children are overly stiff and early reflexes exist for a long time. The newborns suffer extremely; however, they cannot relieve their suffering. Some children experience a more pronounced drug effect than others. Children of three or four years old, who were prenatally exposed to drugs, are annoying, excited and hyperactive. In addition, they experience the speech delay and emotional problems like passivity, aggression, separation, apathy and poor social skills. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome can result long-term effects included personality and behavior problems and learning disabilities, difficulties with communication and many other problems during their growth. Alcohol syndrome can be the reason of babys permanent disability of mother using drugs. Crack cocaine and cocaine cross to fetus through the placenta and it can cause the already addicted babies. These drugs can get to child through the mothers milk. Therefore, if such feeding will have the long-term period, the baby will have behavioral problems over time. Hence, the probability that a drug addicted mother will have the healthy child is rather low, however it is possible. The child can become addicted to the drugs transferred by the mother in utero; however this addiction can disappear over time and baby will not have a desire to take drugs in his/her future. The long-term treatment after the birth, caring environment, complete and balanced nutrition will ensure a comfortable babys life. Hence, some part of children of drug addicted mothers can have normal and full life, therefore they should have obligatory long-term treatment for destruction of potential drug addiction and normal complete living conditions without drug addicted parents.

The US Government Control

Illegal or legal drugs have the destructive influence on fetus development, health and life of a child. In fact, some symptoms and effects of drug usage can decrease or disappear if properly and appropriately cared for. Actually, it is rather unjust that some females would like to have children but cannot do it; however, other females can have children but do not care about their health. The government of the United States tried to control the drug abuse of pregnant women by the laws. In 1985, the study about the damaging effects of heroin on the fetus during the pregnancy produced 16 media response in the USA. After the report, the US government introduced a number of laws that hold a pregnant woman, who uses the drugs, criminally responsible. Such laws caused the harboring of women and child birth in unsanitary conditions; therefore, the laws only increased the risk for the fetus and mother. Hence, the US government should search the new ways to solve the topical problem.


To sum up, the impact of drugs on a fetus is negative and destructive. The scientists observe the negative effect for many years after the birth. However, special medical care can mitigate the symptoms of drug usage or completely cure the children. Moreover, some children can have normal and happy life. The US government should develop different methods to educate women on the possible effects of drug abuse. Any female should be informed about the problem and care about the childs health and life.

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