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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

Start Here

  • From the National Institutes of Health Easy-to-Read (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism) - PDF Also in
  • (March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation) Also in
  • (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) - PDF Also in

Related Issues

  • (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) Also in

Specifics

  • (March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation) Also in
  • (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) Also in
  • (Organization of Teratology Information Specialists) - PDF Also in
  • (March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation) Also in
  • (Organization of Teratology Information Specialists) - PDF Also in
  • (Organization of Teratology Information Specialists) - PDF Also in
  • (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
  • (March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation)

Health Check Tools

  • (American Cancer Society)

Statistics and Research

  • (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) - PDF
  • (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institute on Drug Abuse)
  • From the National Institutes of Health Infographic (National Institute on Drug Abuse)
  • (March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institute on Drug Abuse)
  • (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) - PDF
  • (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) - PDF
  • (American Lung Association)

Clinical Trials

  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institutes of Health)

Journal Articles References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)

Find an Expert

  • (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration)
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  • From the National Institutes of Health
  • From the National Institutes of Health Also in
  • (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration)

Teenagers

  • (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) - PDF

Men

  • (Organization of Teratology Information Specialists) - PDF Also in

Patient Handouts

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