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This article is the third in a series about the effects of substance abuse on family members and friends. The following excerpt deals with the effects of a pregnant mother’s substance abuse on her unborn child.

When a parent or guardian has a problem with abusing drugs and/or alcohol there can be devastating consequences for the children in the family. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has created a program to educate and help people who are trying to deal with abuse of alcohol and other substances. The following information is an excerpt from one of the articles found on the NIDA website. For further information you may visit www.drugabuse.gov

“When a woman is pregnant, a baby is growing inside her. If the woman uses drugs while she is pregnant, it can cause the baby to have health problems.

Mothers drinking alcohol when pregnant is the most common cause of health problems in newborn babies.

The baby might:

Be born small.

Have problems eating and sleeping.

Have problems seeing, hearing, and moving.

Be slow to develop.

While growing up, the child might:

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Have trouble following directions and need to be told things many times.

Have trouble paying attention and learning in school.

Need special teachers and schools.

Have trouble getting along with others.

Act out and not understand the effects of doing bad things.

Have a drug problem of their own.

Children whose mothers used drugs while they were pregnant sometimes need special medical care all their lives. Some might not be able to live on their own when they grow up.”

Children face many challenges when trying to succeed in today’s world. It is often difficult to deal with the daily stresses and obstacles they face. When a mother chooses to abuse drugs while she is pregnant, her child may be born with many difficulties that will hamper his success in life. If one chooses to use drugs, alcohol or other substances, that person is making a choice to put his life in danger. When a pregnant woman chooses to use drugs, alcohol or other substance she is not only making the choice to put herself at risk, she is also making a choice for her unborn child. The results of this choice may be difficult or impossible for the child to overcome. The child is at a disadvantage before he or she even enters the world.

Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse; National Institutes of Health; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

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Kaye Frataccia is the program manager for Around the Table. This column solely represents the writer’s opinion.

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