Pregnancy and Cocaine Abuse

A new study from the USA has investigated the damage caused when mothers abuse cocaine during pregnancy. The results point to significant risks to both mother and child both while pregnant and afterwards as a result of cocaine use.

Cocaine use during pregnancy has increased exponentially over the past decade and its effects on health and social welfare can be devastating. With such an extreme rise in usage, a study has been conducted by the Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago regarding cocaine's effects on foetuses and neonates of pregnant abusers.

Over four percent of pregnant women in the United States use cocaine, putting the health of their unborn child at severe risk as well as their own safety. While early predictions that many cocaine-exposed babies would suffer severe brain damage have not come true, these children still face many health problems ranging from subtle to life-threatening.

Twenty-three cocaine-using women were enrolled in Northwestern Memorial's perinatal addiction program and split into groups of those who primarily used cocaine and those who used cocaine as well as narcotics. All women were of a similar age, economic status and past drug use and the study showed that the cocaine-using participants had a higher rate of spontaneous abortion and pre-natal complications. This condition occurs when the placenta pulls away from the uterus wall before labour begins and the result can be fatal for both baby and mother.

While the physical health of infants was not shown to be affected, infants exposed to cocaine during their formative months had significant depression of interactive behaviour and poor responses to environmental stimuli. Many children developed feeding and sleeping difficulties or became irritable and easily frightened; consequently, these infants could be extremely difficult to comfort and grow up withdrawn from outside stimulus.

The most important thing for expectant mothers addicted to cocaine is to seek immediate help. Many rehab clinics throughout the United Kingdom offer detox programs and individual therapy and Cocaine Anonymous UK is an excellent source of peer support and talking therapy.  When cocaine abuse starts to affect not just the user, but also their unborn child, it’s time to seek help and to conquer this addiction once and for all.

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