Prenatal Substance Abuse Essay

1010 words - 4 pages

Substance abuse during pregnancy can have a negative force on the health and wellness of not only the fetus, but that of the mother. The harmful effects of medications, alcohol and illegal drugs on an unborn child can be devastating and can have significant consequences to its use. Sometimes the effects can be faced and treated, and other times the outcome is a lifelong challenge. During the prenatal period, it is important that new mothers are informed of the different types of abuse, how they may affect the fetus, and the adverse conditions their child may be faced with before and after birth.

Most women are unaware of the risks associated with taking prescription medications while pregnant. Usually the fear is that of alcohol or drug use, but there is rarely any mention of prescription medications. Prescription medicine can actually be quite harmful to a fetus during pregnancy. Over the counter and pharmacy products, as well as medications prescribed by a physician previous to the pregnancy, may not always indicate potential hazards. It is important to check with a physician whether the products are safe for the baby, as well as the mother. “The U.S. Food and Drug Administration rates both over-the-counter drugs as well as medications your health care provider may prescribe. The FDA system ranks drugs as follows: Categories A through D give specific instructions on whether a specific medication is safe during pregnancy or not. The medications are distinguished by whether the benefits outweigh the risks. Category X is drugs researched and proven to cause birth defects and should never be taken during pregnancy.” (Berger, n.d.). Taking vitamins, drinking caffeine and taking other herbal supplements may also seem like a daily routine; but these items can also cause harm to the unborn child. Herbal supplements including castor oil, primrose oil and Echinacea can lead to malformations. Vitamin E has been linked to cardiovascular disease. Common use of Tylenol or aspirin for headaches or pain is also forbidden. Aspirin is linked to Reye’s syndrome affecting the fetus’ brain and liver. Tylenol is a powerful toxin that can cause liver damage and be fatal to the fetus. It is imperative that no matter what medications a mother may be taking, once the pregnancy is confirmed, it is crucial to discontinue use, and speak with a family physician regarding continued use or not. Once a mother is pregnant, everything she eats and drinks is a form of nourishment to the fetus and is ingested through the placenta directly to the baby. It is extremely important to determine whether or not any medications are safe or may cause complications with the fetus and delivery.

Warnings and dangers of alcohol abuse have been recognized since biblical times. “Behold, thou shalt conceive and bear a son: and now drink no wine or strong drinks” (Holy Bible, Judges 13:7, 1970, p.261). There was even mention from Aristotle who noted “that...

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