Pregnancy: the Effects of Alcohol and Substance Abuse on Fetal Development

4521 Words Mar 14th, 2013 19 Pages
Pregnancy: The Effects of Alcohol and Substance Abuse on Fetal Development
Natalie Fontanella
Liberty University Online

This paper examined the effects of alcohol and substance abuse on fetal development in expecting mothers. The critical periods of fetal development during pregnancy are reviewed and discussed in order to determine the effects alcohol and substance can cause during certain stages. In order to gain a more efficient understanding of the effects different substances can have on fetal development the following substances were studied: (1) alcohol, (2) cocaine, (3) opioids, (4) nicotine (smoking), and (5) cannabis sativa (marijuana). Each substance (previously listed) examined was provided with supporting
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environmental toxins and substances) during this period can cause major defects in the structure of developing organs (i.e. brain cellular structure, lungs, heart, kidney, and etc.), and other important structures (i.e. bones and muscles). This may result in the death of the fetus or cause severe physical malformations (i.e. congenital abnormalities) or mental impairments (i.e. disorders) (Office of Children’s Health Protection, 2003). As the stages of prenatal development progress, exposure to environmental toxins and substances can result in the fetus developing an array of defects and deficiencies that can continue after birth and up through adulthood (i.e. physical, mental, and behavioral) (Office of Children’s Health Protection, 2003). It is clear that expecting mothers need to be conscious of what they expose their fetuses to in utero so they develop properly. It is imperative that expecting mothers avoid the use of any alcohol or other drug substances during their pregnancy. Each period of development for a fetus is critical and exposure to alcohol and substances can significantly reduce their chance of being born and living a healthy life (Office of Children’s Health Protection, 2003).
The Effects of Different Substances on Fetal Development Expecting mothers need to be cautious of what they expose their growing fetus to throughout the entire pregnancy. Disruption of proper fetal development can cause severe deformities in the fetus physically, mentally, and
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