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Addiction and Substance Abuse

Cocaine use

03/10/2009

Question:

I have recently found out I am pregnant, probably about 6 weeks. Without knowing this I used cocaine in the last six weeks with extensive alcohol as well. I am extremely concerned that this might have casued problems for my unborn child. What are the risks accociated with cocaine use within the first six weeks of pregnancy. This is not a habit and I will definately not continue doing it, I just need to know if everything will be okay.

Answer:

There is not a simple answer to your question. Both alcohol and cocaine can cause problems for the fetus during pregnancy. The first trimester is the highest-risk time because this is when the bulk of brain and body development takes place.

However, there is no way to easily predict which baby will get affected. Some infants may be severely affected, some will be moderately affected, and others may not be affected at all. Other risk factors such as maternal age, exposure to infections, and use of certain prescription medications may also contribute to birth defects.

The safest thing to do, as you already mentioned, is to stop your use of cocaine. It is just as important (if not more important) to not use alcohol or tobacco during the pregnancy. It is also vitally important to get regular prenatal care.


For more information on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, see
http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/fas/.

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Response by:

Christina M Delos Reyes, MD Christina M Delos Reyes, MD
Assistant Professor of Psychiatry
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University