The effects of doing drugs and drinking alcohol during pregnancy have long been known to have significant effects on a developing fetus.

The results of substance abuse during pregnancy range from low birth weight to fetal death and the realm of repercussions in between is vast.

One outcome that occurs due to drug use during pregnancy is babies being born addicted to the mother’s substance of abuse.


The life of a baby born addicted to drugs is stressful, uncomfortable, difficult to manage and in many cases, short-lived.

Addiction is recognized as a disease in adults, and this disease can be passed to an infant during pregnancy. Whether it is a product of the womb environment or a genetic disposition passed on and triggered by the use of drugs during pregnancy, babies are more and more often being born with a dependency on chemicals and compounds.


Can babies be born addicted to drugs?

Babies can be born addicted to drugs if the mother’s addiction to and abuse of drugs is passed onto the child during pregnancy. These infants display symptoms of neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) and require immediate, acute medical attention.


What happens to babies born addicted to drugs?

can babies be born addicted to drugs

When a drug addict goes off of drugs, the ramifications are fast, intense and so intolerable, the addict typically runs to get more drugs unless they are amidst professional medical rehabilitation care.

So when a baby is born after developing with drugs for weeks or months, the consequence is the same: withdrawal. As the adult addict’s body gets used to sensations and reactions induced by drugs and is unable to reproduce these sensations without the drug, so a baby’s body realizes it is completely unequipped to proceed with development with the substance.

Addiction can happen over prolonged use or after one use of some hard drugs. The most common symptoms experienced by babies born addicted to drugs include:

  • Difficulty with movement
  • Tremors and jitters
  • Gagging
  • Diarrhea
  • Color changes
  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Hiccuping
  • Fast breathing

If a baby is born addicted to drugs and lives to exhibit symptoms, hospital neonatal staff and doctors can take of the baby through the withdrawal process and most likely, nurse the child to health. 

While medical intervention can be pushed aside in favor of behavioral intervention, medication is sometimes necessary to rehabilitate an infant to health. In the case of using pharmacologic therapy, which can include medications such as methadone, a doctor is acutely aware of the infant’s vital, stability and progress at all time as the baby is kept under constant watchful surveillance.

Care can last from a week to six months depending on the severity of the addiction, which depends on a number of factors, including the drug, length of prolonged use and more. As the baby develops through its toddler years and adolescent life, it might be necessary to work with a medical professional and other early childhood intervention specialists.

Reach Out to United Recovery Project for Help

It isn’t too late for you or your loved one to get help. By working with a professional rehabilitation service, you have the opportunity to reclaim your health, your sobriety and your capacity for motherhood.

If you are pregnant or think you might be pregnant and need help recovering from addiction, reach out to United Recovery Project. Our representatives and team are responsive, experienced and know how to help you in this time of need so that you can bring a happy and healthy baby into the world.