Cocaine use during pregnancy can be extremely dangerous for both baby and mother. Research has demonstrated that there are many negative effects of cocaine use while pregnant.
Miscarriage. During early pregnancy especially, the use of cocaine may lead to miscarriage. Cocaine in the woman’s body may cause the developing placenta to remove itself from the wall of the uterus before labor. This is known as placental abruption. Placental abruption can be fatal to both mother and baby. The risk of placental abruption is compounded by cigarette smoking, so that a woman who uses both cocaine and cigarettes during early pregnancy is at an extreme level of risk for placental abruption.
Birth Defects. The CDC has estimated that babies of women who use cocaine during early pregnancy are as much as five times more likely to have certain birth defects.
Premature birth. Women who use cocaine during pregnancy are twice as likely as other women to have a baby that is premature. In addition, women who use cocaine during pregnancy are six times as likely to have their baby born with a low birthweight. Cocaine inhibits the flow of oxygen and important nutrients to the fetus, and this significantly impacts their growth. Babies who are premature or low birthweight are much more likely to die in their first month than normal-weight babies. Babies who survive risk long-term disabilities, such as cerebral palsy, mental impairment, and vision and hearing problems.
Stroke. Cocaine use during pregnancy can cause the unborn baby to have a stroke, resulting in permanent brain damage.
Feeding difficulties. Some babies exposed to cocaine in the womb will have difficulties feeding after birth.
Problems with organ development. Babies whose mothers use cocaine while pregnant are at an increased risk of having problems with kidney, genital, brain, and other organ development.
If a woman uses cocaine later in pregnancy, these risks are further compounded. In addition, it is possible for a baby to be born already addicted to the cocaine in her mothers body, and to go through withdrawal symptoms after birth.