These drugs are prescribed to treat pain and are sometimes used as a pre-anesthetic sedative. Common names include morphine, codeine, hydrocodone (Vicodin), meperidine (Demerol) and oxycodone (OxyContin, Percocet).
These drugs are prescribed to treat anxiety and sleep disorders. CNS depressants are divided into two categories, barbiturates and benzodiazepines. Common prescription names include mephobarbital (Mebaral), pentobarbital sodium (Nembutal), alprazolam (Xanax), diazepam (Valium), lorazepam (Activan) and chlordiazepoxide HCI (Librium).
These drugs are prescribed to treat narcolepsy and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Common prescription names include dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine or Adderall) and methylphenidate (Ritalin).
Popular drugs that can be harmful to your baby:
- Morphine and Demerol are labeled Category C for safety in pregnancy; they are used to relieve severe to moderate pain.
- Tylenol with Codeine is labeled Category C for safety in pregnancy; it is usually used for mild to moderately severe pain.
- Xanax is labeled Category D for safety in pregnancy; it is used to treat anxiety and panic disorders.
- Valium is labeled not for use in pregnancy; it is used to treat anxiety disorders and alcohol withdrawal.
- Ritalin is labeled Category C for safety in pregnancy; it is used to treat attention-deficit hyperactive disorder.
- Oxycontin is labeled Category B for safety in pregnancy; it is used to relieve moderate to severe pain for an extended amount of time.
It is important to let your health care provider know about any drugs that you are taking.
How can prescription drugs harm my baby?
Everything that a pregnant woman ingests has the potential to affect her baby in either a positive or negative way. Oxygen and nutrients that are positive reach the fetus by crossing the placenta. Any drugs taken by a pregnant woman will also cross the placenta to reach her baby. The effects of any drug on the developing fetus are largely dependent upon the stage of a woman’s pregnancy. Prescription drugs can cause the following problems and complications during pregnancy:
- Contraction of the uterus which can affect the blood supply to the baby or cause preterm labor and birth.
- Interference with normal prenatal development that can lead to birth defects or fetal demise.
- Interference with the function of the placenta which supplies oxygen and nutrients to the baby causing some babies to be underdeveloped and underweight.
How would I know if I am abusing prescription drugs?
- You use larger doses than prescribed.
- You use them more frequently than prescribed.
- You take the medication for reasons other than originally prescribed.
- You take medication prescribed for someone else
- You use medication with alcohol, narcotics or other addictive substances.
What should I do if I’m pregnant and abusing drugs
The most difficult step is admitting that you have a problem. When you become pregnant your lifestyle habits will need to change for the sake of both yourself and your baby. At your first prenatal visit, your health care provider will ask you a series of questions about your lifestyle. He/she will ask if you smoke, drink, and/or are taking any prescription drugs. Be completely open and honest with your health care provider.
What happens when a pregnant woman smokes marijuana?
Marijuana crosses the placenta to your baby. Marijuana, like cigarette smoke, contains toxins that keep your baby from getting the right amount of oxygen that he or she needs to grow.
How can marijuana affect the baby?
Studies of marijuana in pregnancy are questionable because many women who smoke marijuana also use tobacco and alcohol. Smoking marijuana increases the levels of carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide in the blood, which reduces the oxygen supply to the baby. Smoking marijuana during pregnancy can increase the chance of miscarriage, low birth weight, premature births, developmental delays, and behavioral and learning problems for the baby.
What if I smoked marijuana before I knew I was pregnant?
According to Dr. Richard S. Abram, author of Will it Hurt the Baby, “occasional use of marijuana during the first trimester is unlikely to cause birth defects.” Once you are aware you are pregnant, you should stop smoking. Doing this will decrease the chance of harming your baby.
What happens when a pregnant woman?
Cocaine crosses the placenta and enters your baby’s circulation. The removal of cocaine is slower in a baby than in an adult. This means that cocaine remains in the baby’s body much longer than it does in your body.
How can Cocaine affect my baby?
According to the Organization of Teratology Information Services (OTIS), during the early months of pregnancy cocaine may increase the risk of miscarriage. Later in pregnancy, cocaine use can cause placental abruption. Placental abruption can lead to severe bleeding, preterm birth, and fetal death. OTIS also states that the risk of birth defects appears to be greater when the mother has used cocaine during pregnancy.
According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecology (ACOG), women who use cocaine during their pregnancy have a 25 % increased chance of premature labor. Babies born to mothers who use cocaine throughout their pregnancy may also have a smaller head and growth limits. Babies who are exposed to cocaine later in pregnancy may be born dependent and suffer from withdrawal symptoms such as shakes, sleeplessness, muscle spasms, and feeding difficulties. Some experts believe that learning difficulties may result as the child gets older. Defects of the genitals, kidneys, and brain are also possible.
What if I used cocaine before I knew I was pregnant?
There have not been any studies done on single doses of cocaine during pregnancy. Birth defects and other side effects are usually a result of long-term use, but because studies are questionable, it is best to avoid cocaine altogether. Cocaine is a very addictive drug and trying or testing the drug often leads to abuse.
What happens when a pregnant woman takes methamphetamine?Methamphetamine is chemically related to amphetamine, which causes the heart rate of the mother and baby to increase.
How can methamphetamine affect my baby?
Taking methamphetamine during pregnancy can result in problems similar to those seen with the use of cocaine in pregnancy. The use of speed can cause the baby to get less oxygen, which can lead to low birth weight. Methamphetamine can also increase the likelihood of premature labor, miscarriage, and placental abruption. Babies can be born addicted to methamphetamine and suffer withdrawal symptoms that include shakes, sleeplessness, muscle spasms, and feeding difficulties. Some experts believe that learning difficulties may result as the child gets older.
What if I used methamphetamine before I knew I was pregnant?
There have not been any studies done on the effect of one time use of methamphetamine during pregnancy. It is best not to use if you are trying to get pregnant or think you might be pregnant
What does the law say?
Currently there are no states that hold prenatal substance abuse as a criminal act of child abuse and neglect. But many have expanded their civil child-welfare requirements to include substance abuse during pregnancy as grounds for terminating parental rights in relation to child abuse and neglect. The laws that address prenatal substance abuse are as follows:
- Some states consider prenatal substance abuse as part of their child welfare laws. Therefore prenatal drug exposure can provide grounds for terminating parental rights because of child abuse or neglect. These states include: Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Minnesota, Nevada, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
How can I get help?
You can get help from counseling, support groups, and treatment programs. Popular groups include the 12 step program. Numbers that can help you locate a treatment center include:
- National Drug Help Hotline –1-800-662-4357
- National Alcohol and Drug Dependence Hopeline – 1-800-622-2255
- National Institute of Drug Abuse – www.drugabuse.gov
- March of Dimes – www.marchofdimes.com
- American Pregnancy Association – www.americanpregnancy.org