Discuss how alcohol and drugs can impact the development of a child when a woman uses these substances during her pregnancy.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the most basic of ways, one can grasp how alcohol and drug intake during pregnancy can impact the child.  Whatever the mother takes, the fetus does, as well.  This works in both good and bad, and makes the case against taking alcohol and drugs while pregnant stunningly powerful.  It has only been in the last three to four decades that this link has been fully analyzed.

The understanding behind Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) has helped prove the disastrous link between drinking alcohol while pregnant and the impact this has on the developing child.  First established in 1973 when studying "the physical problems of seen in the offspring of alcoholic women," FAS has "become the number one cause of mental retardation in the United States."  The exact nature of why alcohol causes such emotional, physical and neurological damage to the child while the mother is pregnant is not fully grasped because all organisms respond to alcohol intake differently and the timing of when it is taken during the pregnancy also plays a significant role.  Yet, FAS is now taken as fairly strong evidence that alcohol intake during pregnancy can impact the healthy development of children.

Complications during pregnancy can also be linked to drug use.  Smoking and drug use can also induce difficulty during the delivery process that impacts the child and the mother due to weaknesses in the immune system of both.  In the end, the intake of alcohol and drugs during pregnancy has been shown quite conclusively to not enhance the health and development of children and mothers.