Prenatal Cocaine Exposure

prenatal cocaine use

When a woman is in active addiction during her pregnancy, the drugs can significantly affect the baby. A mother’s health helps to mold that of her baby’s. These drugs reach the baby by traveling through the mother’s placenta. This exposure can lead to lifelong complications that can affect not only the mind but also the baby’s brain. Cocaine exposure to fetal development can have harmful consequences on the baby’s cognitive and behavioral development.

What is Cocaine?

Cocaine is an illicit drug that is a powerful stimulant and is dangerously addictive. Cocaine stimulates your central nervous system, causing an increase in heart rate. This drug can put extreme pressure on your cardiovascular system. This is because when your blood pressure increases and heart speeds up, your blood vessels will constrict. This can cause heart attacks and strokes.

While those who use cocaine may experience a high euphoric feeling, the sensation is short lived. It will be replaced with feelings of agitation, nausea, and restlessness. This can lead to a person seeking more of that same high due to their brain’s intense desire, resulting in an addiction. One of the worst side effects of cocaine is the potential for overdose. An overdose occurs when enough cocaine is consumed to cause a life-threatening condition or even death. Other extreme consequences of using cocaine that could happen include heart attacks, strokes, and seizures.

Problems During Pregnancy

Cocaine will cross the placenta and directly affect the developing baby. The rate of time it takes for the baby’s body to rid itself of cocaine is much much slower than it takes the mother. A baby takes in everything a mother takes in. That means that anything toxic the mother consumes will go directly to the baby. When a baby is developing, it is important to abstain from drugs or alcohol. Their time in the womb is crucial to their development and they will develop quickly. Injuring or disrupting this process could cause lower IQs, stroke, heart defects, and even brain damage.

Cocaine’s stimulating effect that heightens blood pressure can be especially dangerous for women who are pregnant. It can even become life-threatening. Not only can this cause the mother to experience a heart attack, but it can also affect the baby who is developing inside of her. Increased blood pressure can cause the baby to develop myocardial ischemia, as well as experience various heart and nervous system problems. Heart defects and urinary tract defects are common in babies whose mother used cocaine during her pregnancy. A pregnant woman who is using cocaine may risk experiencing a miscarriage or premature birth of their baby. Babies from those who used cocaine during pregnancy are often lower birth weight, which may cause further complications.

Signs After Birth

The effects of cocaine use on the developing baby may be immediately apparent after birth. A baby born to a mother than used cocaine may very irritable. There is just no way to calm down these newborns. This will most likely occur within the first few hours after the baby is born. This is because the baby will be experiencing withdrawal. This can potentially last for months and could cause the baby to experience restlessness, irritability, and even spasms. When a mother uses cocaine, the blood vessels constrict. This can cause a lack of oxygen to the developing baby. A baby may then be born with several different defects and abnormalities, including the skull, brain, and face defects.

What Are the Long-Term Effects?

Cocaine use by a pregnant woman can cause lifelong developmental problems for their child. Some of these effects may be caused by lack of growth due to lack of oxygen while in the womb. This can mean lifelong issues relating to their heart, kidneys, and lungs during growing up. Cocaine can also cause mental and behavioral problems.

This can affect their language, behavior, and ability to reach developmental milestones. Toddlers who were exposed to cocaine within the womb may have difficulty meeting milestones and may need to have professional help to assist in managing their symptoms. Similarly, a child suffering from a defect may need to have a surgical correction in order to function more normally.

Signs & Symptoms of Cocaine Use

If you suspect someone you love is addicted or abusing cocaine, there are some symptoms you can watch for. It is always best to seek help as soon as possible to limit potential complications and consequences. A person who is using may slide away to use the drug and reappear in an entirely different mood. They may appear more upbeat or lively, exhibiting more excitement. However, their appetite will be limited.

You may notice that their sleep pattern varies and is often disrupted. You may also notice that person may experience problems relating to their nose. Cocaine use can cause damage to the nose, resulting in sneezing, runny noses, and nosebleeds. The effects of cocaine typically wear off after an hour. If you suspect someone is using cocaine, watch if they are leaving around the hour mark each time. Bingeing of cocaine can be extremely dangerous and can also cause effects. These effects can be depressive episodes, fatigue, and mood swings.

Treatment For Pregnant Women

Anyone can experience addiction and everyone deserves treatment. Even if someone has been using cocaine for years, there is always hope for treatment. The sooner someone can leave this drug behind, the better. The Arizona Addiction Recovery Center can create an individualized custom plan for a woman who is pregnant and wants to get treatment for her disease. A woman who is pregnant and struggling with addiction will not only be doing damage to her body but damage to her unborn child as well.

The sooner someone gets into treatment, the sooner they can begin managing their symptoms and reap the rewards of having a healthier life. Taking the first step towards seeking help is a huge milestone and should be commended. If you or someone you know is suffering, reach out today to speak with qualified health professionals that are dedicated to helping those struggling with addiction. Turn over a new leaf and embrace a healthier life!