Hard drugs in pregnancy increase risk of birth defect – Expert

Hard drugs in pregnancy increase risk of birth defect – Expert

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Dr Olusola Epharaim-Oluwanuga, a Chief Consultant Psychiatrist with the National Hospital, Abuja, says intake of hard drugs and alcohol by pregnant women increases the risk of  birth defect.

Oluwanuga told this the News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja on Sunday that such drugs could affect the physiological development of the foetus.

She said that hard drugs such as cocaine and alcohol are sedative substances which are considered strong and are likely to pose risks to foetuses and nursing infants.

Oluwanuga added that expectant mother who indulge in drugs were often prone to miscarriages as well as deliver babies with low birth weight, due to drug effect and poor self-care.

“Mothers who take drugs during pregnancy could also give birth to children with foetal alcohol syndrome.

“Other drugs such as crack and heroin causes placental barrier, resulting in addicted babies going through withdrawal soon after birth.

“The expectant mother can develop liver problem, respiratory impairment and memory difficulties while the baby could be born drunk, with defects or die of complication,’’ she said.

Oluwanuga said that the child could also be born with a defective brain which may not be dictated by X-ray and could cause soft damage to the brain.

According to her, it is scientifically proven that a child born into a family of drug addicts could become addicted to drugs due to generic component.

“Some studies have shown that when a child is taken away from parents who are addicts, the child can still become an addict, hence not environmental but genetic,” she said.

She noted that children born drunk could convulse as a result of heavy drinking in the womb and their brain prone to stress.

The expert said that resuscitation could be needed and vitamin supplement administered to the infants immediately after delivery.

Besides, special nutrition must be given to the child as most of such babies are malnourished from the womb, she said.

Oluwanuga advised addicted mothers to seek counselling and get treatment through detoxification and rehabilitation from a psychiatrist for about two months before considering conception.

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