Approximately 4 percent of women still use illicit substances while they are pregnant, according the March of Dimes. Rehabilitation facilities can help individuals who are addicted to drugs, but experts now say that even those who quit before conceiving may do harm to their children.
A new study has found that mothers who quit opiates prior to becoming pregnant may still alter the brain chemistry in children two generations later, according to Science News. Researchers at Tufts University tested the effects of morphine given to rats over the course of 10 days. The spawn of these rats produced less dopamine in their brains, affecting their behavior.
Male rats that were a part of the study showed a greater deficiency of dopamine. An imbalance of dopamine has been linked to substance abuse in humans in the past.
Using drugs during pregnancy may result in low birth weight and may even cause brain damage or other complications. Some babies may be born with the same addiction as their mother if the drug use persists throughout the pregnancy. Substance abuse programs can help women detoxify and live healthier lives.