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The Florida Department of Health works to protect, promote & improve the health of all people in Florida through integrated state, county, & community efforts.

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Effects of Drug Use During Pregnancy

Contact the Maternal and Child Health Section

  •  850-245-4465



    Mailing Address

    4052 Bald Cypress Way, Bin A13 

    Tallahassee, FL 32399-1721 


When you are pregnant, everything that goes into your body has the potential to have an effect on your unborn baby.

Picture of young woman eating a bowl of cereal for breakfast Some things you take into your body have good effects like eating a bowl of high fiber cereal with milk in the morning. You get fiber and folic acid from the cereal and calcium from the milk. These are all good things for you and your baby. The placenta is the organ that connects the baby to you in the womb, which delivers the vitamins and nutrients to the baby.

Picture of young woman who is depressed Some things you take into your body can have bad effects on your pregnancy. Smoking, drinking alcohol, abusing prescription drugs or using illegal drugs can all pass through the placenta and have a negative effect on you and your baby.

Illegal Drugs
Illegal drugs are risky for the mother and her baby. Illegal drug use during pregnancy may cause miscarriage, preterm labor, birth defects, stillbirth, withdrawal symptoms in the baby after birth, a higher risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), poor fetal growth rate, and cognitive and behavioral problems. Women who inject drugs are at a higher risk of contracting HIV, which can be passed on to their baby.

For more information on the effects of illegal drugs and help quitting, visit:

NIH Logo, National Institute on Drug Abuse: The Science of Drug Abuse and Addiction


For information on the ways to be healthy before becoming pregnant, visit the Preconception Health page.

For information on other ways to be healthy during your pregnancy, visit the Pregnancy page.

Prescription Medication
Opioid drugs or narcotics that are abused during pregnancy can cause serious withdrawal symptoms in newborn babies.

For more information on the effects of opioid narcotics and certain illegal drugs such as heroin and help on quitting abusing prescription medication, visit the Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome page.

Alcohol use during pregnancy can cause physical deformities, heart defects, mental retardation, and lifelong physical and behavioral problems. There is no safe amount of alcohol a woman can drink while she is pregnant.

For more information on the effects of alcohol during pregnancy and help on quitting drinking alcohol, visit Florida Fights FASD.

Cigarette smoking passes nicotine and other dangerous chemicals to your baby. Smoking also increases the risk of a premature birth or stillbirth.

For more information on the effects of smoking during pregnancy and help on quitting smoking, visit Tobacco Free Florida.

Additional Resources

Born Drug Free Florida: GET HELP 1-800-945-1355
This is an initiative to raise awareness about babies being born exposed to prescription drugs. The campaign educates expectant mothers about the importance of discussing prescription drug abuse with their doctors and to offer assistance to the women.

Healthy Start Directory

Family Health Line: 1-800-451-2229

Pregnancy Calendar: These slides show the stages of pregnancy. By looking at the parts of the fetus that are developing, you can see what parts of the baby can be damaged by smoking, drinking or using certain drugs while a woman is pregnant.

Zero Exposure Project:  This website is intended as a resource for information about drugs, alcohol, and pregnancy. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact your health care provider.

Treatment Resources

Treatment Referral Helpline: 1-800-662-4357. Free and confidential information in English and Spanish for individuals and family members facing substance abuse and mental health issues. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA): This website offers resources about substance use, mental illness and treatment locations.