I am surprised when a pregnant woman ignores what she eats, drinks, smokes or ingests, in hopes they won't pass to her developing baby. In previous chapters, I've addressed medications and other substances and their effect on a pregnancy. In this chapter, I want to pay special attention to some of the substances most harmful to a pregnancy. I believe every pregnant woman, and those around her, should know the dangers of these substances. Many people are unaware of how destructive even the occasional use of some of these can be.
In this chapter, you will learn what harm smoking, alcohol use and various types of drug use can cause you and your baby. Information about the effects of specific substances on a human pregnancy often comes from cases of exposure before the pregnancy is discovered. These cases help researchers understand possible harmful effects, but they don't help us understand the complete picture. For this reason, we cannot make exact statements about particular substances and their effects on the mother or developing baby. I don't mean to frighten you with this information. However, it is important for every pregnant woman to know about the effects smoking, alcohol and drug use can have on herself and her baby.