Effects of Drugs and Alcohol Use In Utero
April 5, 2010
Tags: abuse, addiction, adopted, adoption, adoptive, advocacy, alcohol, behavior, biological, birth defeccts, caregivers, children, choice, damage, deficits, drugs, dysfunction, education, facts, family, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, fetus, foster care, fostercare, health and welfare, helpless, human, illegal, illicit, innocent, learning, life, narcotics, neglect, opportunities, parents, pregnancy, pregnant, prescribed, prevention, recreational, rehab, rehabilitation, sleeplessness, support, tremors, utero
I am not going to discuss the effects that drugs and alcohol use have on the pregnant mother while she is using. I am going to elaborate on the damage that occurs and potential problems that may develop with the innocent child growing inside her womb – the effects of drugs and alcohol use in utero. I am not an expert, however my life has been dramatically and personally affected by the choices that the biological mother made while my adoptive children and foster children developed in utero.
First and foremost, I have to say that my personal opinion is that any woman who knowingly and willingly partakes of illegal, illicit, recreational or non-prescribed narcotics or consumes alcoholic beverages while being pregnant should be charged with abuse, neglect or child endangerment. In the State that I reside in, it is not illegal; even when the child is born addicted! Sure, the child may be removed when a positive result comes back from the laboratory when the child is born, however there is no legal action taken against the mother! And to add insult to injury (on behalf of the child) - if the mother enrolls herself in rehab or at least provides clean urine samples she is afforded the opportunity to obtain custody at any given time within 2 years after birth or the removal of the child (and possibly longer depending on the situation). I am not opposed to the reuniting, when the mother is found worthy and capable, but what about the child? Shouldn’t the mother be responsible for her actions, the damages that she has caused to the unborn fetus, a human being, a helpless child? The fact that the child may never lead a “normal” life, because of the choices that the pregnant mother chose? Not to mention that the fact remains that the majority of the expenses that this child will incur during his or her life, will more likely than not be picked up by the Medicaid or Medicare system and not by the mother herself. Only in a few states it is unlawful, when it should be nationwide!
The American Pregnancy Association’s website at: http://www.americanpregnancy.org/pregnancyhealth/illegaldrugs.html details how illegal substances such as marijuana, cocaine, and methamphetamines affect the unborn child. The most common side effects that have been linked to substance abuse can include but are not limited to: low birth weight, a small head, decreased growth as the child ages, behavioral and learning difficulties, tremors, sleeplessness, and birth defects including genital, kidney and brain defects. There are a multitude of psychological and neurological diagnoses that are associated with substance abuse while in utero, and research continues to be performed to better understand. There are many aspects that are still unknown.
The National Organization of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome’s website at: http://www.nofas.org/family/facts.aspx provides facts for prevention, education, advocacy and support information in regards to alcohol use during pregnancy and for caregivers post-birth. According to The National Organization of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, “Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) is the leading known preventable cause of mental retardation and birth defects, and a leading known cause of learning disabilities in children and adults.” FASD can also cause a multitude of other physical, mental, behavioral, cognitive, and life-long damages including brain damage, facial deformities, growth problems, vision, hearing, problem-solving, attention deficits, memory difficulties, and more.
The March of Dimes is “the leading non-profit organization for pregnancy and baby health”, and they are “dedicated to improving the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality”. The March of Dimes has excellent information available at http://www.marchofdimes.com/14332_1169.asp including information on illicit drug use during pregnancy. Their research efforts and mission should be commended.
The effects of drugs and alcohol use in utero within this blog are merely only a tip of the iceberg! I have many other sites that I have visited, books I have read, and information provided by counselors, physicians, and health departments that suggest that we may never know all of the effects. It is extremely disappointing that a pregnant mother would choose drugs and alcohol over the welfare of her unborn child and that the life-long implications of drug and alcohol use on the child are not taken seriously by the user. I am not sure if the biological mother of my children has ever been told that the children that I have cared for, fostered and adopted has extreme problems directly related to her abuse and neglect. I am not even sure that if she was told, that she would change. She had children prior to and after my children, born under the same circumstances or worse.
I am perplexed that the actions such as with the biological mother of my children continue to be ignored by our United States Court System and our state Health and Welfare Department. Where is the child advocacy? These children are being born with no rights and especially no right to a healthy life. They are born with problems that are completely preventable!
If you are or know of someone who is using drugs or alcohol while pregnant, please provide them with the following hotline phone number or find the nearest treatment facility to seek help. Children have a right to live a healthy life! Please help give that to them.
National Drug Abuse Hotline 1-(800)-662-HELP, (1-800-662-4357)
Drug Help National Helplines 1-(800)-378-4435
National Institute of Drug Abuse & Alcoholism 1(888)-644-6432
National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependency 1-(800)-622-2255