An epidemic in our country has spiraled out of control. According to the Arizona Task Force on Preventing Prenatal exposure to alcohol and other drugs, each year, an estimated 400,000 –440,000 infants (10–11% of all births) are affected by prenatal alcohol or illicit drug exposure (http://azprenatal.wixsite.com/taskforce/exposure). Prenatal exposure to alcohol, tobacco, and illicit drugs has the potential to cause a full spectrum of physical, emotional, and developmental problems for these infants. The harm caused to the child can be significant and long-lasting, especially if the exposure is not detected and the effects are not treated as soon as possible.
The Varying Types
Amphetamines, Cocaine, Crack, Tobacco
Alcohol, Barbiturates, Tranquilizers, Qualudes
Marijuana, LSD, PCP, Peyote/Mescaline
Glue, Nail polish remover, Gasoline
Opium, Heroin, Methadone, Fentanyl
Morphine, Oxycodone, OxyContin, Vicodin, Percocet
Psychotropic Prescription Drugs for
Haloperidol, Chlorpromazine, Thioridazine
4% of Pregnant Women Say They Used Drugs
According to the Department of Health Services:
- Births in Arizona 2014= 86,648
- Live births in Maricopa County in 2014= 55,285
The Effects of Exposure
Low Birth Weight
Birth weight is an important factor associated with children’s overall health and development. Newborns who weigh under five-and-one-half pound at birth are more likely to have serious medical problems and to exhibit developmental delays. Drug-exposed newborns often do not exhibit normal development.
The risk of premature birth (at less than thirty-seven weeks) is higher in drug-exposed newborns. Other complications can include an increase in acute medical problems following birth, and extended periods of hospitalization. Birth weight under three pounds has been associated with poor physical growth and poor general health status at school age.
Failure to Thrive (FTT)
Newborns who were exposed to alcohol and/or drugs may exhibit this disorder, which is characterized by a loss of weight or slowing of weight gain, and a failure to reach development milestones.
Newborns with prenatal drug exposure may be exposed prenatally or postnatally to infectious and/or sexually transmitted diseases contracted by their mothers. The most common infectious diseases seen in newborns are Chlamydia, Syphilis, Gonorrhea, Hepatitis B, HIV, and Aids.
Within seventy-two hours after birth, many newborns who were exposed prenatally to drugs experience withdrawal symptoms including tremors and irritability. Their skin may be red and dry, and they may have a fever, sweating, diarrhea, excessive vomiting, and even seizures. Such newborns may require medication for calming. Other newborns exposed to stimulants show a pattern of lethargy during the first few days after birth. They are easily overstimulated and may go from sleep to loud crying within seconds.