Pregnancy and Early Childhood


A toddler girl holding a stethoscope on her pregnant mother's belly.
©Getty Images/Halfpoint Images
  • Drug use during pregnancy can affect the health of a pregnant person and their child. For example, a pregnant person’s use or misuse of opioids can cause a newborn infant to experience withdrawal symptoms, a condition known as neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome. Overdose deaths are also rising among women during and after pregnancy.
  • Treatment for a substance use disorder during pregnancy such as behavioral interventions and medication for opioid use disorder reduces health risks, including preterm delivery and low birth weight. Treatment also helps people with substance use disorders stay employed, take care of their children, and engage with their families and communities. However, pregnant people with substance use disorders often face challenges when seeking treatment, including fear, stigma and access to care.
  • NIDA plays a leading role in the HEALthy Brain and Child Development (HBCD) Study, which seeks to better understand how drug use during pregnancy interacts with genetics and other biological influences to affect a child’s mental and physical health over time.

Latest from NIDA

Find More Information about Pregnancy, Early Childhood and Substance Use