Cocaine is a powerfully addictive stimulant that directly affects the brain. Repeated cocaine use leads to tolerance, dependence, and addiction. Cocaine use during pregnancy can affect a pregnant woman and her unborn baby in many ways.
Following are the effects of the cocaine on the unborn baby and the mother when the pregnant women uses cocaine:
- Babies of women who use cocaine regularly during pregnancy are likely to be born at low birth weights when compared to the babies born to the women who do not use cocaine. This happens because of poor growth before birth, premature birth, or a combination of both.
- Babies born with low birth weight are 20 times more likely to die in their first month than normal weight babies.
- Cocaine exposed babies are at increased risk of birth defects.
- Brain malformation or hemorrhage occurs in the infants exposed to cocaine in utero.
- Babies who have undergone the cocaine effect have feeding difficulties and also sleep disorders.
- Cocaine can lead to spontaneous abortion, abruption of placenta and placenta previa in pregnant women.
- There is an increased risk of premature rupture of membranes and preterm labor among pregnant women who use cocaine.
- The elimination of cocaine is slower in a fetus than in an adult, which means the cocaine remains longer in the unborn baby’s body.
- Cocaine can adversely affect embryonic and fetal development through interruption of uterine, placental, and fetal blood flow.
- Use of the cocaine by the mother makes the bonding between the mother and the baby difficult which is believed to be important to a baby’s emotional development.
- According to the Organization of Teratology Information Services (OTIS), during the early months of pregnancy, cocaine exposure may increase the risk of miscarriage.
Cocaine has life threatening effects on babies as well as mothers, hence, a pregnant women should by hook or crook, should avoid abusing cocaine.