Saturday, November 16, 2019

Effects of Drug Use during Pregnancy on Children Essay Example for Free

Effects of Drug Use during Pregnancy on Children Essay Being pregnant means more than just carrying a child in uteri for nine months. Pregnant women must watch what they put into their bodies because it will directly affect the life of their unborn child. Unborn children are totally helpless to their mothers’ actions and totally dependent on everything they do. All pregnant women need to be aware of the consequences of using drugs during pregnancy; drugs such as, cocaine, heroin, cigarettes, methamphetamine, and marijuana. All drugs illegal or not could have critical and long lasting effects on children throughout their whole life. What are drugs? Drugs are chemicals that can make you change the way the body works. Some drugs are worse than others but no matter which one used, during pregnancy all drugs have dreadful effects on the unborn child. The drugs cocaine, heroin, tobacco/cigarettes, methamphetamines and marijuana can affect children in different ways; however, they all should be avoided during pregnancy. Mothers need to think about their unborn child and the adverse effects using drugs will have on them not only as infants but as young children and young adults as well. Cocaine is a strongly addictive stimulant that directly affects the brain. Cocaine is one of the oldest drugs known to this day (Barbara L. Thompson, 2009). There is no safe amount of cocaine for a woman who is pregnant because any cocaine taken will transfer to the baby as well (Drug Babies and the Effects of Drug Abuse During Pregnancy, 2011). Heroine is also a highly addictive drug and it is the most abused and fast acting of the opiate group. Heroine, processed from morphine, is derived from certain poppy plants. Heroin will cross over to the baby through the placenta and cause an unborn baby to be dependent on the drug. Tobacco/cigarettes are a non illicit drug and the most common drug used among pregnant woman. Tobacco products have been linked to low birth weight and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Methamphetamines are highly addictive substances with powerful central nervous system stimulant properties (Drug Babies and the Effects of Drug Abuse During Pregnancy, 2011). Methamphetamines are considered a major drug of abuse and can cause low birth weight, miscarriages and could lead to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (Drug Babies and the Effects of Drug Abuse During Pregnancy, 2011). Marijuana is the most commonly abused illicit drug in America today. Women who use marijuana on a daily basis will operate at subliminal levels because it directly affects the way the brain works. When using marijuana during pregnancy the mother is more likely to have a miscarriage or a low birth weight baby. No matter which drug the mother is using it can be detrimental to the unborn baby’s health and should be avoided. Using drugs during pregnancy not only affects the baby a birth but it can affect that child for the rest of his/her life. The child can experience many difficulties in when he/she goes to school as well. Each drug is different and affects children differently. Cocaine may cause drug dependency and withdrawal symptoms at birth, as well physical and me ntal problems, especially if the mother used cocaine during the first three months of pregnancy. There is a higher risk of hypertension, heart problems, developmental retardation and learning difficulties (Gale A. Richardson, 2010). It has been reported that prenatal cocaine exposure is linked to cognitive and neuropsychological development and school functioning in 6 to 8 year olds (Gale A. Richardson, 2010). A baby who has been exposed to prenatal cocaine use by the mother is more likely to be irritable, jittery and have an irregular sleeping pattern, visual problems and problems with sensory stimulation (Drug Babies and the Effects of Drug Abuse During Pregnancy, 2011). During pregnancy cocaine crosses into the placenta and enters the baby’s blood circulation and will stay in the blood longer than it will the mother (Using Illegal Street Drugs During Pregnancy, 2008). Using cocaine during pregnancy increases the risk of having a miscarriage in the early stages of pregnancy. During the later part of pregnancy, using cocaine can cause placental abruption which could lead to severe bleeding, preterm birth and death of the unborn baby (Using Illegal Street Drugs During Pregnancy, 2008). Also babies who are exposed to cocaine during the later part of pregnancy may experience a dependence of the drug and may be required to be weaned off the drug at birth because the child can experience withdrawal symptoms (Joan Keegana, 2010). Symptoms include tremors, sleeplessness, muscle spasms, and feeding problems for the infant. Prenatal cocaine exposure has also been linked to behavior problems among the children in school, and aggression and shoddier attention and processing skills (Delaney-Black, 2010). For children of prenatal cocaine exposure life can be difficult, struggling in school at an early age may detour that child from continuing school when they are older to achieve his/her diploma. Also the children will have all sorts of behavior issues in school. Compared to children with no cocaine exposure, children who were exposed to cocaine had drastically more mother and teacher behavior problems throughout early elementary school (Gale A. Richardson, 2010). Children of older women who used cocaine during pregnancy also experienced more difficulties in school than children born to younger mothers who used cocaine (Gale A. Richardson, 2010). Children who are exposed to cocaine prenatally were also linked to be affected by weight and height, meaning children were smaller in weight and height categories compared to their peers. Cocaine is a very powerful drug and should not be used at all and more importantly should not be used during pregnancy. Cocaine use during pregnancy could be fatal for the unborn child and does not give him/her a fair chance at life. A pregnant woman needs to think about her unborn child before she does cocaine because her child could potentially have multiple problems in school and in life. The most important reason for a woman not to use cocaine during pregnancy is it could kill an unborn child. Heroine is classified as an opiate and travels the fastest of any drug into the baby’s blood stream when the mothe r is pregnant and used it (Joan Keegana, 2010). Like cocaine heroin is also very addictive and the baby once born can become dependent on this drug and have to be weaned off of it (Using Illegal Street Drugs During Pregnancy, 2008). Using heroin while pregnant can affect fetal development. Heroin use has been associated with an increased risk of miscarriage and premature birth, and babies may be born smaller than average and may be prone to illness (Barbara L. Thompson, 2009). The substances that are cut with heroin may also cause problems during the pregnancy and affect the developing fetus. Injecting heroin can increase the risk of both the mother and baby becoming infected with blood-borne viruses, such as hepatitis and HIV (Joan Keegana, 2010). Pregnant women who want to stop taking heroin need to be very careful. Sudden withdrawal from heroin may harm the baby and increase the risk of miscarriage, premature birth and stillbirth (Using Illegal Street Drugs During Pregnancy, 2008). If a mother continues to use heroin while breastfeeding, it is possible that the drug will be present in her milk and may have adverse effects on the baby. Babies of mothers who use heroin will have some long-term effects. Some children at three to six years of age children whose mothers were addicted to heroin were lower in weight and height compared to the other children whose mothers did not use heroin, and impaired in behavioral, perceptual and organizational abilities. Babies born with low birth weight have been shown to have many difficulties later in life such as, language learning disabilities, behavior problems, and children are more likely to be rejected by peers and performance in school may suffer and the children may need special education courses. Heroin is a very bad drug to be addicted too, not only because of the risks it presents on the person using it, but because it has an added risk of HIV because of all the needle sharing. Using heroin or any opiate should be avoided at all time for children’s sake. Methamphetamine use during pregnancy affects development of a babys, brain, spinal cord, heart and kidneys (Drug Babies and the Effects of Drug Abuse During Pregnancy, 2011). Methamphetamine use during pregnancy may result in prenatal complications, like premature delivery and birth deformities. High doses of the drug may cause a babys blood pressure to rise rapidly, leading them to suffer strokes or brain hemorrhages before birth (Barbara L. Thompson, 2009). Methamphetamine-exposed babies may experience gastroschisis and other problems with the development of their intestines (National Institutes on Drug Abuse, 2009). As a result of methamphetamine use by their mothers, some babies may suffer developmental and skele tal abnormalities and some babies are born without parts of their arms or legs (Joan Keegana, 2010). Because methamphetamine affects transmitters in the brain, babies often experience sleep disturbances and altered behavioral patterns (Drug Babies and the Effects of Drug Abuse During Pregnancy, 2011). These babies have been described as irritable babies. Full-term babies born to mothers who use methamphetamine will likely have difficulty sucking and swallowing, much like premature babies. Often babies born to meth-addicted women cannot tolerate stimuli such as human touch and light. These babies often display tremors and coordination problems (Using Illegal Street Drugs During Pregnancy, 2008). Babies whose mothers used methamphetamine during pregnancy may experience learning disabilities, growth and developmental delays (Methamphetamine use During Pregnancy, 2008). The effects of methamphetamine use on brain development may last for many years. School-aged children whose mothers used methamphetamine while pregnant are more likely to be hyperactive or to have attention deficit disor ders, learning disabilities and unprovoked fits of anger (Methamphetamine use During Pregnancy, 2008). When pregnant women use marijuana it crosses into the baby through the placenta. Marijuana contains toxins that keep the baby from getting the proper amount oxygen that the baby needs in order to grow normally (Using Illegal Street Drugs During Pregnancy, 2008). Marijuana use during pregnancy is one of the lesser bad drugs; however, it could still pose detrimental problems on the growing fetus (Using Illegal Street Drugs During Pregnancy, 2008). Babies born to women who used marijuana during their pregnancy display altered responses to visual stimulation, increased tremors, and a high-pitched cry, which could indicate problems with nervous system development (Joan Keegana, 2010). During preschool and early school years, children who have been exposed to marijuana have been reported to have more behavioral problems and difficulties with sustained attention and memory than children who were not exposed (Joan Keegana, 2010). Because some parts of the brain continue to develop into adolescence, it is also possible that certain kinds of problems will become more evident as the child matures (Drug Babies and the Effects of Drug Abuse During Pregnancy, 2011). Pregnant women should not to use any drugs because they might harm the growing fetus. Although one animal study has linked marijuana use to loss of the fetus very early in pregnancy, two studies in humans found no association between marijuana use and early pregnancy loss (Barbara L. Thompson, 2009). Regardless of the situation, mothers should not smoke marijuana because of the possibilities of it causing harm of the baby. Tobacco is the most commonly drug used among women who are pregnant because the quit rate is surprisingly low. Only twenty percent of woman who smoke will quit smoking completely during their pregnancy (Vanessa E Murphy, 2010). Women who are heavy smokers are less likely to quit as well. Smoking during pregnancy can cause premature birth and can cause the baby to be little. Smoking while pregnant is also linked to placenta previa, placenta abruption and sudden infant death syndrome (Drug Babies and the Effects of Drug Abuse During Pregnancy, 2011). While smoking tobacco has long been linked to poor growth in a fetus and other short-term effects, it also has long-term effects on a baby whose mother smoked during the pregnancy. Only about twenty percent of women smokers who become pregnant quit (Drug Babies and the Effects of Drug Abuse During Pregnancy, 2011). With all of the health effects that tobacco can have on both baby and mother, pregnant women who smoke are advised to try and quit for their own health and the health of their child (Miles, 2009). Children born to mothers who smoke tobacco tend to be more impulsive and have more trouble learning and developing. Infants whose mothers smoked while they were in the pregnant are more likely to exhibit lower scores on mental tests at age one and to have lower grades overall during the school years than children whose mothers who did not use tobacco (Vanessa E Murphy, 2010). The risk of a learning disability, such as dyslexia, rises twenty-five percent in children whose mothers smoked a pack or more of cigarettes a day. Babies born to smokers may also have lifelong birth defects that impede mental development, such as cerebral palsy or mental retardation (Miles, 2009). Those whose mothers smoked moderately or heavily during pregnancy were over four times as likely to develop type two diabetes; also called adult onset diabetes, before the age of 33, which is considered an early age for developing this type of diabetes. The children of mothers who smoke are also more likely to become obese later in life. There is also a link between fetal exposure to tobacco smoke and future risk of cardiovascular disease (Vanessa E Murphy, 2010). Children who were exposed to tobacco smoke as a fetus are more likely to develop hypertension, or high blood pressure, than the children of women who did not smoke during pregnancy (Miles, 2009). This increase was originally thought to be correlated to the low birth weight typical of babies whose moms smoked during pregnancy, but when compared with children of similar birth weight, the smokers children had higher blood pressure at ages five and six than other kids. Mothers who smoke tobacco while pregnant may also affect their babys brain in ways that last a lifetime. These children are more likely to engage in criminal behavior and to abuse drugs than the children of women who did not smoke while pregnant (Drug Babies and the Effects of Drug Abuse During Pregnancy, 2011). Overall, mothers who are pregnant should not use any type of drug from illicit to non illicit because they can all have detrimental consequences on the growing baby, not just in the womb but later in life as well. Work Cited * Barbara L. Thompson, P. L. (2009). Prenatal exposure to drugs: effects on brain development and implications for policy and education. National Institutes of Health , 10 (4), 303-312. * Delaney-Black, V. (2010). Prenatal and Postnatal cocaine exposure predict teen cocaine use. Neurotoxicology and Teratology , 110-119. * Drug Babies and the Effects of Drug Abuse During Pregnancy. (2011). Retrieved May 19, 2011, from The Good Drugs Guide: * Gale A. Richardson, L. G. (2010). Prenatal cocaine exposure: Effects on mother-and teacher-rated behavior problems and growth in school-age children. Neurotoxicology and Teratology , 69-77. * Joan Keegana, M. P. (2010). Addiction in Pregnancy. Journal of Addictive Diseases , 29 (2), 175-191. * Methamphetamine use During Pregnancy. (2008, October). Retrieved May 19, 2011, from North Dakota Department of Health: * Miles, M. (2009). Challenges for midwives: pregnant women and illicit drug use. Australian Journal of Advanced Nursing , 28 (1), 83-90. * National Institutes on Drug Abuse. (2009). Retrieved May 18, 2011, from National Institutes of Health: * Using Illegal Street Drugs During Pregnancy. (2008, October). Retrieved May 19, 2011, from American Pregnancy Association: * Vanessa E Murphy, V. L. (2010). The effect of cigarette smoking on asthma control during exacerbations in pregnant women. Thorax , 739-744.

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