Impact of maternal substance use during pregnancy on childhood outcome

Seetha Shankaran, Barry M. Lester, Abhik Das, Charles R. Bauer, Henrietta S. Bada, Linda Lagasse, Rosemary Higgins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

94 Scopus citations


The impact of maternal substance abuse is reflected in the 2002-2003 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Among pregnant women in the 15-44 age group, 4.3%, 18% and 9.8% used illicit drugs, tobacco and alcohol, respectively. Maternal pregnancy complications following substance use include increases in sexually transmitted disorders, placental abruption and HIV-positive status. Effects on the neonate include a decrease in growth parameters and increases in central nervous system and autonomic nervous system signs and in referrals to child protective agencies. In childhood, behavioral and cognitive effects are seen after prenatal cocaine exposure; tobacco and alcohol have separate and specific effects. The ongoing use of alcohol and tobacco by the caretaker affects childhood behavior. Therefore, efforts should be made to prevent and treat behavioral problems as well as to limit the onset of drug use by adolescent children born to women who use drugs during pregnancy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)143-150
Number of pages8
JournalSeminars in Fetal and Neonatal Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Alcohol
  • Child medicine
  • Cocaine
  • Neonatal
  • Neurobehavioral outcome
  • Polydrug use
  • Tobacco

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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