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The effects of drug abuse on pregnancy

Kuczkowski, Krzysztof M

Current Opinion in Obstetrics and Gynecology: December 2007 - Volume 19 - Issue 6 - p 578–585
doi: 10.1097/GCO.0b013e3282f1bf17
Women's health: Edited by Gubby Ayida and Joseph Aquilina

Purpose of review The present article is an update on the effects of drug abuse on pregnancy outcome.

Recent findings Substance abuse in pregnancy is on the increase worldwide. Simultaneously, there is great variability in prevalence rates in different countries, regions of countries and in different ethnic groups. In the United States nearly 90% of drug-abusing women are of reproductive age. Substances most commonly abused in pregnancy include cocaine, amphetamines, opioids, marijuana, ethanol, tobacco, caffeine, and toluene-based solvents. Polysubstance abuse is very common.

Summary Substance abuse in pregnancy is associated with significant maternal and fetal morbidity. Risk factors suggesting substance abuse in pregnancy include lack of prenatal care, history of premature labor, and cigarette smoking. In the United States the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has made multiple recommendations regarding management of parturients with drug abuse during pregnancy. Women who acknowledge use of illicit substance during pregnancy should be counseled and offered necessary treatment. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists also acknowledged that some states consider intrauterine fetal drug exposure to be a form of child neglect or abuse under the law.

Departments of Anesthesiology and Reproductive Medicine, University of California San Diego, San Diego, California, USA

Correspondence to Krzysztof M. Kuczkowski, MD, Department of Anesthesiology, UCSD Medical Center, 200 W. Arbor Drive, San Diego, CA 92103-8770, USA Tel: +1 619 543 5720; fax: +1 619 543 5424; e-mail:

© 2007 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.