Health Consequences of Drug Misuse
Prenatal Effects

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Photo of a pregnant woman.
Photo by ©Shutterstock/Yana Godenko

Studies show that various drugs may result in miscarriage, premature birth, low birth weight, and a variety of behavioral and cognitive problems in the child. A baby can also be born dependent on the drug if the mother uses it regularly—a condition called neonatal abstinence syndrome.

Women who are pregnant, considering pregnancy or are breastfeeding should check with their health care provider about the dangers of various drugs to the unborn or breastfeeding baby. Below is a list of some of the commonly misused drugs than can be harmful. For more information on the effects of using these drugs, see the Substance Use in Women Research Report. 

Drugs that may have adverse prenatal effects:

  • Cocaine
  • Heroin
  • Inhalants
  • Marijuana
  • MDMA
  • Methamphetamine
  • Prescription and over-the-counter drugs
  • Tobacco, Nicotine, and Vaping