Is it okay to take Cocaine while pregnant?

Studies show that fetuses exposed to cocaine have language development issues and other health problems, like behavioral issues. Some women, for fear of losing their child, will hide their addiction and continue taking the drug.

Not only can this cause devastating health effects to the baby, but the mother’s health may also be at risk. Taking cocaine while pregnant could result in premature birth, meaning the mother will not carry the baby for the full term. The result of a premature birth due to cocaine use can affect how the baby’s brain develops.

Cocaine while Pregnant: What you need to know

Expectant mothers struggling with cocaine addiction while pregnant should seek medical help, as misuse of the drug can lead to many adverse health effects. The drug can cause the mother to experience serious psychiatric health problems, cardiac and respiratory problems.  Other health risks from cocaine use while pregnant include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Migraines
  • Seizures
  • Spontaneous miscarriage
  • Cardiac arrhythmia (irregular heart rhythm)

Cocaine misuse during pregnancy is directly linked to difficulties with delivery. Mothers who regularly took cocaine during their pregnancy experienced placenta abruption, which is the separation of the placenta from the wall of the uterus, premature rupture of membranes and stillbirth. Mothers who use cocaine during their pregnancy are 2.2 times more likely to experience a stillbirth than mothers who do not.

Since cocaine is a central nervous system stimulant, it can bypass the placenta completely and reach the fetus. This not only causes potential lifelong learning disabilities, but it may also cause an infant to be born with cleft palate, a hole in the roof of the mouth. Cocaine use while pregnant may also cause defects in limb growth and congenital heart diseases.

If a mother continues to use cocaine during the later stages of her pregnancy, the risk of addiction for the infant grows. Most babies that are born from women suffering from cocaine addiction are premature, which causes them to have a smaller head circumference, shorter in length and are underweight.

Babies are expected to remain in their mother’s womb until 37 weeks, if an infant is born before the 37-week mark, it’s considered premature birth. The World Health Organization states that preterm children have a much higher risk of developing visual and hearing complications, as well as learning disabilities. A study listed on the National Institute of Health’s website states that children who were exposed to cocaine before they were born have a much higher risk of developing learning disabilities.

As stated previously, many women that suffer from cocaine addiction are too afraid to seek help because they do not want to lose their child. Although the fear of child loss is understandable, continuing use of cocaine may not only result in child loss, but it can cause several birth defects. These defects can affect a child for the rest of their life.

At The Recovery Village, our staff will not judge any patient, regardless of their situation. If you or a loved one is in need of addiction treatment, you can find a location near you.

Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.

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