Effects of Maternal Substance Abuse Essay

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The Effects of Maternal Substance Abuse on Children Before and After Birth Abstract Maternal substance abuse is a major problem in today’s society and can cause severe damage to children before and after birth. This paper examines the effects that maternal substance abuse has on children before and after birth. The most common substances abused by pregnant women are alcohol, cigarettes, and illicit drugs such as marijuana and cocaine. Studies show that 27% of women abuse one of these substances while being pregnant. Each substance can cause severe and permanent damage to children before and even after birth. Researchers have found that these substances can cause low birth weight, premature delivery, fetal alcohol syndrome, mental retardation, learning disabilities, stillbirth, miscarriages, and under developed limbs. Many babies born to mothers that have abused alcohol and drugs while pregnant are born addicted to the substance and go through withdrawal symptoms after being born. Some women are able to quit using these substances when becoming pregnant but many women are not and need professional help to quit. Pregnant women face many barriers when trying to get help for their substance abuse problems. Many pregnant women seek out help through the community and treatment programs but find they are mainly male centered and do not cater to their personal needs. Other barriers they face are the fear of criminal prosecution and the fear of losing their current children to child protective services. Maternal substance abuse continues to be a growing problem today. Educating more mothers on the consequences of abusing substances while pregnant will help reduce the number of children affected by this significant problem. Introduction This paper examines the effects that maternal substance abuse has on children before and after birth and some of the barriers
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