Updated: 5 August, 2019

Drug abuse during the early development of a newborn is prevalent even into adulthood. Drug abuse during the early stage of the baby’s development can affect the development of vital organs, limbs and central nervous system of the baby. Drugs passed on through breast milk can still affect your baby. Illegal drugs can have a detrimental effect on your newborn baby.

The use of illegal drugs after giving birth can adversely affect your newborn in several ways. After giving birth, continuous use of these drugs can make parenting difficult for you and you may be unable to attend to your newborn properly.

There are many drugs that can be taken in different ways, so the effect varies. Drug abuse is not healthy for you and your newborn.

Find below effects of drug abuse on your newborn:

9 Negative Effects of Drug Abuse on the Newborn

1.   Blood Flow: 

Frequent drug abuse can reduce blood vessels and limiting the proper flow of oxygen-rich blood in your newborn. This can result into stunt growth and head circumference. 

2.   Behavioral Issue: 

Whether you start abusing drugs from pregnancy or immediately after giving birth, Children who are exposed to drugs in the uterus or through breastfeeding often have learning difficulties and behavioral problem. 

3.   Heart Abnormalities: 

Drug abuse during and after pregnancy can cause fetal risk to the heart of the newborn. Drugs act as stressors and when passed to your newborn can alter the proper functioning of the child’s heart. 

4.   Sleep and Feeding Problems: 

Newborn babies born under the influence of drugs mostly have sleep disturbance and feeding problem. Drug abuse distorts the normal function of the newborns nervous system. Drugs such as amphetamine are thought to concentrate in the breast, and when your newborn sucks it from the breast, it causes irritability and disturbed sleep pattern. It is advised not to breast feed your new born after using amphetamines. It is important to discard breast milk after use of amphetamines. 

5.   Longer hospital stay: 

Drug abuse during pregnancy can adversely affect your newborn’s health, and your baby might need to stay longer in the hospital than expected until the baby is healthy enough to be discharged. Newborns exposed to drugs may require extra supportive care and treatment to ascertain that they are healthy enough. 

6.   Low Birth Weight: 

Newborns exposed to drugs during and after pregnancy may have low birth weight and would need extra medical care to sustain the child.

7.   Child Safety: 

It is unwise to be under the influence of drugs when caring for your newborn as your baby could be accidently injured. It is unsafe to sleep with your newborn under the influence of drugs. Drug abuse affects the safety of your newborn. Always follow the safe sleeping guidelines. Mothers with drug problems can totally forget to take good care of their newborn baby. There might not be anyone else to take care of the kids feeding, bathing, and caring.

8.   Crack Baby: 

Babies exposed to drugs in the fetus usually become crack babies (Prenatal Cocaine Exposure). Newborns exposed to cracks during pregnancy have been reported to have severe emotional, mental and physical disability. PCE have been associated with birth defects, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and other associated cases. When drugs influence kids, they tend to grow up and become addicted to drugs. 

9.   Psychological Damage: 

Most newborns influenced by drugs during and after pregnancy may become psychologically affected later in life. In most cases, this might affect their perception of life, IQ level, and emotional quotient


While most over the counter drugs are not safe for you during pregnancy, some drugs are still safe. If you are taking medications during pregnancy or after pregnancy, here are some concluding tips to help you stay safe.

  1. Do read the medication label before consuming OTC drugs.
  2. Natural dietary supplements might be considered safe due to their natural contents, but that is not always the case. Consult your doctor before consuming supplements.
  3. Aspirin and Ibuprofen should not be considered during the first 3 months of pregnancy unless given strict instruction by your doctor.

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Table Of Contents

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Chapter 1 – 9 Negative Effects of Drug Abuse on the Newborn

Chapter 2 – Conclusion


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