The Aftermath of Maternal Cocaine Use
Many of the women who abuse cocaine are quite young. These women are in their childbearing age and sooner or later they conceive and have a baby. Given the effects of cocaine on unborn infants, maternal cocaine use is causing global colossus medical problems. Close to 750,000 women get pregnant while still heavily dependent on the drug. Medical experts warn that the figure could be even higher owing to the number of pregnant cocaine addicts who choose to withhold their substance abuse history whenever they attend prenatal and postnatal clinics. The women do this as a result of stigma and fear of losing their parental custody rights.
Effects of cocaine on unborn babies
Unborn babies are the most innocent victims of cocaine. They are much more likely to be born prematurely with multiple health complications compared to babies whose mothers are not familiar with cocaine. The drug considerably impairs the supply of food nutrients from the mother to the infant, which explains why babies who have been predisposed to the drug are smaller in size at birth.
Naturally, inadequate provision of nutritional elements hampers the babies’ growth and development. As a result of this, they are often born with heads that are abnormally small in proportion to their bodies, making it difficult for them to develop properly and exhibit high cognitive skills throughout their lives.
Cocaine alters an infant’s brain chemistry permanently, as medical experts claim. It hinders the growth and development of the central nervous system's monoaminergic cells, sparking on blood circulation related problems by narrowing the unborn babies' blood vessels.
The illicit drug is also one of the principal causes of placental abruption which is the separation of the placenta from the unborn infant before the labor. The condition often results in excessive bleeding and it can lead to death of both the mother and the unborn baby.
Cocaine further affects the infants’ genitourinary, digestive, musculoskeletal and the cardiovascular systems. Cocaine affected babies often develop respiratory distress syndrome, among other health complications, and have to contend with it for life.
Babies whose mothers used cocaine during pregnancy are usually hypo-active; they find it difficult to follow objects with their eyes while some of them develop seizure and heart defects that spring up strokes at an early age.
The first step to these children’s journey to recovery involves prompt health assessments that are gauged using the Brazelton Neonatal Behavioral Assessment Scale. However, this journey is often pretty hard and quite long.