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The United States is currently facing a serious drug crisis that affects public health, social and economic welfare. Misuse of opioids causes more than 130 deaths daily. These drugs include prescription and non-prescription pain relievers, heroin, synthetic opioids, other drugs, and alcohol. This blog will discuss the drug epidemic and how it impacts pregnant women and their babies. Substance abuse during pregnancy can affect every baby, whether they are being placed for adoption or not.

Maternal Drug Use During PregnancyWhen a baby is placed for adoption, prospective adoptive parents generally explore the baby’s and birth mother’s medical histories. If prospective adoptive parents are not able to obtain reliable health information prior to the birth of the child, it is important to have the hospital evaluate and observe a baby. In addition, new parents should be educated and on alert for possible early warning signs of any possible drug or alcohol exposure.

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASDs)

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASDs) occur when alcohol is consumed during pregnancy. The effects may include lifelong complications such as: mental and physical behavioral and/or learning disabilities and possible physical deformity. Among pregnant women, 1 in 10 reported alcohol use. If a pregnant woman drinks beer and/or any types of wine, the alcohol travels into the mother’s bloodstream and then to the babies umbilical cord, this can be damaging to the unborn baby. The sooner alcohol consumption is stopped, the safer it can be for both, the mother and baby.

Opioids Impact

Opioids are often used as painkillers. These medicines contain chemicals that relax the body and cause drowsiness while relieving pain. This type of drug derives from the opium poppy plant. This drug can be dangerous and addictive and is commonly the cause of overdoses and death. In 2017, more than 47,000 Americans died due to an opioid overdose. Other opioids are made synthetically and, while having the same effect on the body, may also have additional side effects.

Most notably, these medications are addictive, and it is not unusual for newborns to be addicted as well, leading to withdrawal symptoms at the time of their birth. Another risk is Gastroschisis, a birth defect involving the baby’s abdomen, where the intestines develop outside of the body through a hole beside the belly button, also stunts growth, and leads to low birth weight, Preterm delivery that occurs before 37 weeks, and neural tube defects that affect the spine, spinal cord or the brain are other possible outcomes.

Smoking While Pregnant

Women who smoke tobacco, e-cigarettes or marijuana may have difficulty becoming pregnant and have a high risk of infertility as stated below.

 CigarettesMaternal Drug Use During Pregnancy

Cigarette smoking in general causes heart disease, cancer, and other major health problems. Women who smoke during pregnancy are more likely to have a miscarriage, compared to women who do not smoke. Smoking in any form, including e-cigarettes, may expose the woman to nicotine, which can be damaging to the brain and lungs. Smoking during and after pregnancy is also a significant risk factor for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) in newborns. SIDS is the sudden, unexpected and unexplained death of an infant in the first year of life. Smoking directly and exposure to second-hand smoke by and near women during pregnancy should be avoided. Infants who die from SIDS have a higher concentration of nicotine in their lungs and higher levels of secondhand smoke exposure than infants who die from other causes.


About 1 in 20 women in the United States use marijuana while pregnant. The chemicals in any form of marijuana may be harmful to the infant. This includes: smoking, vaping and eating. Just a few examples of how marijuana can be consumed and how it can be harmful to pregnant women. Furthermore, marijuana may impact the baby’s development due to the similar chemical’s tobacco smoke has. When mothers are breastfeeding their baby they can still be exposed even after you stop using marijuana. The THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol), an active component in cannabis preparations, is stored in fat and is thereby, slowly released over time and can be passed through to the baby’s breast milk.

Maternal Use during Pregnancy

Nearly half of the pregnancies in the U.S. are unplanned. Mothers who are expecting should go to their health providers to maintain a healthy pregnancy. If a woman is consuming any drugs or alcohol and becomes pregnant, it is important that she contacts a health care provider and enters treatment to assure the health of her infant. Counseling may also help. It is not recommended to suddenly stop using prescribed medicine because it could cause severe health problems and harmful for you and your baby. This should be done under medical supervision. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle for mother contributes to a healthy delivery and a healthy child.

Adoption Choices of Nevada

If you are currently in the process of adopting a baby and have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact, Adoption Choices of Nevada. You may visit the website here or contact us by 775-825-4673 (Reno Office) or 702-474-4673 (Las Vegas Office). Our hours are Monday through Friday, 9am-5pm PST.

Support Adoption Choices

Adoption Choices, Inc. is partnering with Crowdrise, a fundraising website for nonprofits, to help our adoptive parents and birth parents with much needed financial assistance. We understand that expenses keep clients from fulfilling their dreams. Both with birth parents making a plan for adoption, and with adoptive parents growing their family. It is our mission to provide financial assistance through grants and scholarships, awarded annually in November, in honor of National Adoption Month. Funds assist adoptive parents with matching and placements, adoption finalization and helping birth mothers improve their lives through higher education — and much more.

However, we can’t do it alone. Please read up on our programs and donate money where you are able. Your donation will make a huge impact.

About the Author

Rachel StromRachel Strom graduated from Lehman College in the Bronx in May of 2018, where she received her bachelors in Professional Writing. After receiving her education at Lehman College, Rachel is currently interning at Adoption Choices Inc., where she is a weekly blogger.

Rachel was adopted from Asuncion, Paraguay in 1991. Her adoption experience has helped her write articles for Adoption Choices Inc., from the perspective of an adoptive individual. She hopes her articles will help someone looking into adoption or encourage those currently in the process.

When Rachel is not writing for Adoption Choices Inc. or her own novels she enjoys her other passion for baking, where she resides, in the New York City area. When she is baking, music is always playing throughout the kitchen while she is whipping up a delectable dessert for her friends and adoptive family.



“Basics about FASDs | CDC.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, May 2018,

Klein, Rebecca. “The Role of Genetics in Adoptive Families.” Adoptive Families, Adoptive Families Magazine, 15 July 2016,

National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Most Commonly Used Addictive Drugs.” NIDA, July 2018,

“Pregnancy and Opioids.” MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 27 Dec. 2018,

“Tobacco Use and Pregnancy | Reproductive Health | CDC.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Sept. 2017,

“What You Need to Know About Marijuana Use and Pregnancy | Fact Sheets | CDC.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Mar. 2018,

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