The week of May 14 is Alcohol and Drug-Related Birth Defects Awareness Week. According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence:
About 20% of pregnant women smoke cigarettes, 12% drink alcohol and 6% use an illicit drug at least once during pregnancy. These numbers are very alarming. If only people knew the dangers of their decisions, perhaps we would be looking at something more acceptable in those numbers.
So what are some of the dangers posed by these substances to a developing fetus?
Effects of Tobacco Use
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the fetus gets less oxygen when the mother smokes. Smoking during pregnancy is a risk factor for low birth weight, preterm birth, placenta problems, miscarriage, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
Effects of Alcohol Use
I have written about the effects of alcohol use during pregnancy before — in fact, it was the subject for the first article I wrote for this blog.
Alcohol easily passes through the placenta, so when a pregnant woman drinks, so does her fetus. Continue reading