Babies born to mothers who had inhaled, snorted or injected cocaine during their pregnancy are likely to suffer from cognitive decline in later life. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) also pointed at the perils of crack use during pregnancy by revealing that fetal exposure to cocaine can be associated with the following side effects:
- Decreased information processing capacity
- Lack of focus
- Cognitive decline
Whether it is cocaine or any other illicit substance, misusing them during pregnancy affects the baby indirectly as these reach the baby’s blood circulation through the placenta. As compared to the mother, the growing fetus experiences significant adverse effects since these drugs stay in the body of the unborn child for a longer period and could cause significant damage to the body and the brain. Babies born to mothers abusing crack during their pregnancy show signs of withdrawal similar to withdrawal symptoms in opioid-addicted babies. Some of the most common signs of withdrawal include sleeping and feeding difficulties, muscle spasms, tremors etc.
According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecology (ACOG), babies born to crack-addicted mothers could have some of the following abnormalities:
- Smaller than normal head
- Reduced growth potential
- Genital, kidney and brain defects
Dangers of in utero drug exposure
Nearly 3 million teenagers had been exposed to cocaine in utero during the 1980s as cocaine abuse had reportedly reached its pinnacle during this era. An ongoing 20-year-long study by Case Western Reserve University reported that teens who had been exposed to crack while still in their mother’s womb are twice as likely to smoke tobacco and use marijuana at the age of 15. They are more likely to have a full-fledged substance disorder at 17 compared to those who were not exposed to the ill effects of cocaine while in their mother’s womb.
The study also pointed to the psychological impact of drug abuse on the unborn children. Babies exposed to cocaine in the womb are more likely to be affected by stress. Further, in case a person had been subject to abuse as a child, chances of his or her reacting negatively to stress increase manifolds. Apart from being deficient in problem-solving skills and losing control over their emotions easily, children born to cocaine-dependent mothers are more likely to engage in antisocial activities like truancy, petty fights, stealing, using drugs, tobacco, etc.
Commenting on the role of “stress circuits,” which are responsible for building thresholds to stress and for developing coping behaviors, Meeyoung O. Min, a research associate professor at the Mandel School and a researcher with Project Newborn said, “prenatal cocaine exposure may predispose children to a lower threshold for activating ‘stress circuits’ and may increase their vulnerability to the harmful effects of environmental stress such as childhood maltreatment.”
Road to recovery
According to Project Newborn, a National Institutes of Health (NIH) funded study that began in 1994, children born to crack-addicted mothers could greatly benefit from preventive programs, counseling and rehab. These can be helpful in offering essential life skills to new mothers for living a fulfilling life.
If you or a loved one is addicted to drugs, the Florida Detox Helpline can help you get in touch with one of the best Florida drug detox facilities in your vicinity. You can call our 24/7 helpline number 855-920-9869 or chat online with our representatives to get more information on the finest detox center in Florida providing evidence-based therapeutic interventions to ensure safe detoxification.