Most pregnant women are aware that they should abstain from alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs during their pregnancy. Unfortunately, some mothers’ addictions prevent them from saying no to these harmful substances. And when a mother is unable to resist the lure of alcohol, cigarettes, or drugs while she’s carrying a child, it can have serious consequences once the child is born.
The March of Dimes and The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention are two notable groups that put a lot of effort into educating and warning expectant mothers about the dangers of smoking while pregnant. Some of the harmful potential effects highlighted by both groups include respiratory issues, learning disabilities, birth defects, stillborn children, premature births, and pregnancy complications.
Why Do People Smoke?
The reason that smoking is so addictive is because nicotine, just like other drugs, stimulates the centers in the brain that are responsible for pleasure. Since the brain wants to continue experiencing pleasure, it leads to people smoking more and more.
When a woman is pregnant, anything she takes into her body also goes into the baby’s body. So when what she’s taking in is nicotine, it’s also stimulating the child’s developing pleasure centers.
A new study published in JAMA found that this early exposure to nicotine is linked to an altered state of reward processing in children. This issue becomes especially prevalent once kids reach their teenage years. The study found that teens whose mothers had smoked during pregnancy were more impulsive than non-exposed teens. They also found that exposed teens were more likely to be excited by exploring new things, including drugs.
What Can Expectant Mothers Do?
If a woman has a problem with alcohol, cigarettes, or drugs and is planning to get pregnant or is already pregnant, it’s important for her to seek professional help as soon as possible. While some pregnant women do find the strength to fight their addiction on their own, the success rate for that approach isn’t very high. By joining a proven drug abuse recovery program, an expectant mother can put herself in a better position to bring a healthy child into the world.