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Pregnancy and Substance Abuse

Summary

When you are pregnant, you are not just "eating for two." You also breathe and drink for two, so it is important to carefully consider what you give to your baby. If you smoke, use alcohol or take illegal drugs, so does your unborn baby.

First, don’t smoke. Smoking during pregnancy passes nicotine and cancer-causing drugs to your baby. Smoke also keeps your baby from getting nourishment and raises the risk of stillbirth or premature birth. Don’t drink alcohol. There is no known safe amount of alcohol a woman can drink while pregnant. Alcohol can cause life-long physical and behavioral problems in children, including fetal alcohol syndrome. Don’t use illegal drugs. Using illegal drugs may cause underweight babies, birth defects or withdrawal symptoms after birth.

If you are pregnant and you smoke, drink alcohol or do drugs, get help. Your health care provider can recommend programs to help you quit. You and your baby will be better off.

Dept. of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health

National Institute on Drug Abuse

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