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What are the risks to my baby if I use illegal drugs when pregnant?

A woman who uses illegal—or “street”—drugs during pregnancy can have a baby who is born premature; has low birth weight; or has other health problems, such as birth defects. A woman who uses cocaine while pregnant is more likely to have a baby with birth defects of the arms, legs, urinary system, and heart. Other drugs, such as marijuana and ecstasy, also can cause birth defects among babies.

It also is important that a woman not use "street" drugs after she gives birth, because such drugs can be passed through breast milk to her baby and can affect the baby’s growth and development. If you use "street" drugs, talk with your doctor about quitting before you get pregnant.

Babies of mothers who use some illegal drugs, such as heroin, are born addicted to these drugs. Other drugs that flow through the mother's bloodstream pass through the placenta into the baby's bloodstream, affecting the baby as well.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.