National Institutes of Health

Drug Abuse Hurts Unborn Children

When a woman is pregnant, a baby is growing inside her. If the woman uses drugs while she is pregnant, it can give the baby health problems.

Mothers drinking alcohol when pregnant is the most common cause of health problems in newborn babies.

The baby might:

  • Be born small.
  • Have problems eating and sleeping.
  • Have problems seeing, hearing, and moving.
  • Be slow to develop.

While growing up, the child might:

  • Have trouble following directions and need to be told things many times.
  • Have trouble paying attention and learning in school.
  • Need special teachers and schools.
  • Have trouble getting along with others.
  • Act out and not understand the effects of doing bad things.
  • Have a drug problem of their own.

Children whose mothers used drugs while they were pregnant sometimes need special medical care all their lives. Some might not be able to live on their own when they grow up.

Sad mother looking at small baby

Mothers drinking alcohol when pregnant is the most common cause of health problems in newborn babies. (Photo information)

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