Maternal substance abuse can consist of any combination of drug, chemical, alcohol or tobacco use during pregnancy.
As MedlinePlus explains, while a fetus is in the uterus, it develops according to the nutrition it receives from the mother through the placenta. However, along with the food it receives, any toxin that enters the mother’s body can get passed on to the fetus. This often causes damage to its developing organs. Additionally, a baby can become dependent on the substances that a mother consumes.
While smoking increases the risk of a stillbirth or premature birth, alcohol use can cause physical and behavioral problems throughout a child’s life. Substance abuse can lead to babies with a low birthweight and birth defects.
It is important for mothers to understand that being pregnant is not just about eating well. In addition to other practices that can help care for babies during pregnancy, it is important for mothers to keep environmental conditions in mind, such as the air quality of the places they go and avoiding those areas where smoking is common.
Symptoms of a baby that has suffered from maternal substance abuse: Some symptoms can include an irritable or anxious baby that has eating problems and diarrhea. A diagnosis can be made from toxicology tests of the baby’s urine or fecal matter. The mother’s urine will also be tested.
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