How Long Do Drugs Stay In A Baby’s System?

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Today, there are many risk factors to an unborn baby while developing in the womb. The list of what you can and cannot do is endless.

One of these things that can cause many pregnant women to stress is the effect of drugs on their unborn child. We are going to look at a range of different drugs and their effect on both mom and her unborn baby.

Many women may take drugs recreationally or for medical purposes but how much do we actually know about what it does to your unborn child? How long will it affect your baby? Will there be lasting damage? 

Let’s face it whether or not you knew you were pregnant when taking drugs, it is always better to be prepared and have the knowledge available to understand what could be happening to your unborn baby. 

Amphetamines

This drug is better known as ‘speed, whizz, phet.’  The main use of this drug would be to increase performance. It can be used to improve cognitive performance and also to treat conditions such as ADHD.

It can make the user feel excited and more energized.  It can also suppress your appetite which many people deem to be a great trait when dieting to lose weight.

Side Effects For Mom

After the drug has hit its peak in your system the only way is down, your mood will become low, you may find yourself with low energy levels, extreme tiredness, and have a sense of paranoia.  

Side Effects For Baby

Whether this drug is being used medically or misused as a recreational drug there are huge side effects to pregnancy and thus the baby.

Taking the drug can raise blood pressure and heart rate and as your body is doing this naturally during pregnancy this added pressure could be potentially dangerous for both mom and baby. 

Some of the negative effects that have been reported are:

  • Cleft Lip
  • Low birth weight
  • Cardiac problems
  • Reduced head size
  • Premature labor
  • Still Birth

Although it is thought that it can not be deemed as the only factor of your baby developing one of these side effects, it certainly will increase the risks. 

How Long?

Undeniably the effects of using this drug can alter the life of a child. But how long does the drug stay in the system of a baby?

Doctors suggest that as long as it is in the mom’s system it will also be in the baby’s and it can be detected for up to a week after the drug has been taken.

Once born the baby’s urine or stools can be tested for amphetamine and if there is a positive result from recreational use then there would be questions as to whether the baby would need to be removed from the mom’s care. 

Cannabis

This drug is sold as a dried herb or a crumbly resin. It is a drug that is usually smoked in a roll-up with tobacco. It can also come in an oil form.

This drug is the most popular amongst all ages of people. The benefits of using this drug to help medical conditions have been said to work miracles. They provide relief for patients who have chronic pain and further medical needs. 

It is not usually used as a recreational drug as it doesn’t contain the toxins that give the ‘high’ people usually chase when taking drugs.

Side Effects For Mom

Where the benefits of Cannabis are apparent, there are still side effects that you need to be aware of.

Many report coordination difficulties, delayed reaction times lend themselves to making driving or operating machines a potentially dangerous risk. It can lower blood pressure and alter your heart rhythm causing dizziness which can increase the risk of falling over and injury. 

Side Effects For Baby

The most common way to take Cannabis is by smoking it. This can have developmental issues for your unborn baby as there are chemicals within tobacco that can harm your unborn child. 

Also, research is lending itself to its contribution of low birth weight in infants when the use of cannabis is present.  He/she can look pale and be less active. 

As your child grows up there are reports that they themselves have poor concentration and delayed cognitive development. These issues are more noticeable as the child becomes older. 

How Long?

Cannabis exposure can stay in your baby’s system for months after use. It generally takes 24-57 hours just to work half of the dose out.

THC is absorbed into the tissues of the body and this can act as a slow-releasing reservoir. The medical advice for pregnant moms is to stop using this drug immediately. 

Cocaine

This drug is a powerfully addictive stimulant that can cause serious addiction. It can sometimes be used in medical procedures and act as an anesthetic. The effects of Cocaine are usually short-lived and can last any time from a few minutes to a couple of hours.

The high that people get when taking this drug is so intense that it leaves them wanting more, this creates harsh side effects when the drug is wearing off.

It can be used in many different ways, such as, inhaled, rubbed on to gums, injected, and smoked.

Side Effects For Mom

Once the high has worn off it can be followed by a deep depressive episode. It can make the user feel anxious, paranoid, hostile, and angry even when they haven’t got their high. 

Regardless of how frequently the drug has been used the potential health risks are not something to ignore. It can increase the chances of stroke, heart attack, respiratory failure, and in some cases even death.

Side Effects For Baby

For unborn babies and newborns Cocaine is a highly dangerous drug. There have been reports of some abnormalities of the developing unborn baby in the brain, skull, face, eyes, heart, limbs, intestines, genitals, and urinary tract.

The newborn will tend to be a lot smaller than that of a baby who hasn’t been subjected to cocaine misuse. 

It encourages the placenta to pull away from the womb causing placental abruption which can be fatal for both mom and baby. 

How Long?

Cocaine can enter the unborn baby’s system through the placenta and amniotic fluid. Many babies who have been subjected to cocaine misuse can be tested from samples of their hair and urine.

Babies are obviously a lot smaller than adults and because of this, the drug takes longer to be removed from the baby’s system than that of adults. 

Traces of Cocaine can be found in a mom’s system up to 30 hours after taking the drug but for newborns, it could be 2-4 days. 

Percocet

This is a combination drug formally used to treat moderate to severe pain. It is made with both Acetaminophen and Oxycodone. Oxycodone is a known narcotic drug with Acetaminophen used to increase the effects of pain relief. 

As this drug can be very addictive it is only prescribed in special situations where no other treatment has worked. 

Side Effects For Mom

Side effects can range from mild to severe depending on the amount of Percocet being used. Mild doses have little to no side effects on a mom or a pregnancy.

But the severe addiction this drug can cause may lead the mom to take larger doses and this can have detrimental effects on the fetus and mom. 

Many reports have included: 

  • Preeclampsia
  • Preterm labor
  • Death of fetus
  • Restricted growth
  • Heart Defects

Effects For Baby

Babies that are going through withdrawal from this drug can have a range of different symptoms, from rapid breathing to full-blown seizures neither is pleasant to witness.

Babies that are suffering from extreme withdrawal many need further treatment like an IV to prevent dehydration. Treatments can last from one week to 6 months depending on the severity of the addiction. 

How Long?

How long the drug will stay in a baby’s system is again dependent on the amount of drug that has been taken. In general terms, a short-term user’s baby may have withdrawals for 48 – 72 hours.

Opiates

These drugs are formally used as pain relief. Doctors have the power to prescribe them to you in the form of Codeine or Morphine but there are also stronger do you can buy illegally formally known as Heroine.

Essentially, they are used to slow down certain processes in the body and can give the user side effects like sleepiness. With this in mind, doctors will always advise the user not to operate heavy machinery or drive whilst under the effects of Opiates. 

Side Effects For Mom

In most circumstances, it is not uncommon for a mom to take opiates whilst pregnant. If used under supervision they can pose little to no risk for the mom and her unborn child. 

As with any drug, there is a danger of addiction and in these circumstances, it can cause more severe problems. Similar to Percocet the Opiates can transfer to the fetus through the placenta and umbilical cord. Many of the dangers are similar to that of Percocet.

Side Effects For Baby

There has been a breakthrough in research regarding the misuse of Opiates and newborn babies. Major birth defects have been noted as a result of using this drug in an uncontrolled manner.

These include:

  • Spina bifida 
  • Congenital heart defects.
  • Gastroschisis
  • Hydrocephaly 

All of these defects can have long term and life-changing impact on a child’s life.

How Long?

It is difficult to say how long Opiates can stay in a baby’s system. It depends on varying factors like, What type was taken? When was mom’s last dose? How long was mom taking the drug? 

All these factors contribute to the withdrawal of Opiate use when pregnant and after birth. 

As with other drugs babies can be tested for traces in their stool,  and urine samples.

The Final Thought

Ultimately drugs of any kind that are taken through pregnancy will be transferred to the unborn child.

Depending on the drug used, they can have life-lasting effects on the baby and also the mom. Traces of any drug can be detected in a baby’s system and they can have the agonizing pain of withdrawal when they are born. 

Medical advice would always be to find alternatives to the drugs you may consume or be used for a medical condition. The proof is in the research. 

For further information check out our article on how to clean out your baby’s system of drugs.

You may be wondering about drugs like botox when you are pregnant, check out our article here.

Medical Disclaimer. All content and media on the MomInformed Website is created and published online for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice and should not be relied on as health or personal advice.

Hi, I'm Emma and I'm a mother to 5 beautiful children aged from 1 to 21 years old- life is hectic! I have learned so much along the way, not only from my own children but also through my professional life. In my positions as a Childminder and Teaching Assistant, I have studied Child Development and The Early Years Developing Practice. I wish to share all of this knowledge and help you with your own parenting journey!

Hi, I'm Emma and I'm a mother to 5 beautiful children aged from 1 to 21 years old- life is hectic! I have learned so much along the way, not only from my own children but also through my professional life. In my positions as a Childminder and Teaching Assistant, I have studied Child Development and The Early Years Developing Practice. I wish to share all of this knowledge and help you with your own parenting journey!