Birth defects are common when pregnant women abuse alcohol or drugs. This alcohol abuse does not have to be pronounced. In fact, doctors advise that any amount of alcohol, including beer and wine, may cause troubling birth defects. Drug use can have similar outcomes.
The good news is that these birth defects are preventable. Taking care of drug and alcohol abuse problems before getting pregnant can eliminate them.
Birth Defects and Alcohol Abuse
Alcohol abuse can have serious, lifelong consequences for unborn babies. Known as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, these issues lead to physical, mental and emotional problems. Because of a mother’s alcohol abuse, a baby may be born underweight or with a range of damage to various organs and the brain. These physical problems cause lasting behavioral and intellectual disabilities.
Birth Defects and Drug Use
Like alcohol abuse, drug use while pregnant results in developmental issues for babies. Drug use can include not only illegal substances like cocaine and methamphetamines, but also over-the-counter medicines and caffeine.
It’s important for expectant mothers to remember that their baby ingests everything they do. In addition to the immediate effects of the drug, the baby can also experience a range of developmental issues that will follow them for the rest of their lives.
How to Prevent Birth Defects
The birth defects that are caused by drug and alcohol use are entirely preventable. Women who are drinking or using and not planning to become pregnant may be well served by using a reliable method of birth control.
Women who want to become pregnant may decide to change their habits with regard to drugs and alcohol now in an effort to prevent birth defects. Getting professional help while continuing to use birth control is advisable for women who are unable to quit on their own.