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Illegal drugs during pregnancy

drugs; illegal; illicit; cannabis; marijuana; dope; cocaine; amphetamines; speed; ice; ecstasy; hallucinogens; pregnancy; pregnant; infant; baby; fetus;


All illegal drugs may affect an unborn baby. These include marijuana (cannabis), cocaine, amphetamines, hallucinogens and ecstasy. Your doctor or midwife will ask you questions about any drugs you may be taking, both prescribed and illegal. You should tell them about all drugs you are taking. This is important so that you and your baby can receive the best care and support. This information will be kept confidential.

For more information about many illegal drugs and their effects during pregnancy see:


Cannabis (marijuana) use during pregnancy has not been shown to cause an increased rate of birth defects, but, like tobacco use, the baby’s growth may be reduced. There is some evidence that exposure to cannabis before birth affects a baby's behaviour and may cause long-term behaviour problems.

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Speed and Ecstasy

The use of amphetamine and amphetamine-like substances such as methamphetamine (including ice) and ecstasy during pregnancy has also been associated with slower development and subtle abnormalities in the newborn.

It is possible that if a mother uses any of these drugs while breastfeeding, the drug will be present in her milk and may affect the baby.
Using dexamphetamine for medical reasons (eg treatment of ADHD) appears to have low risk for birth defects.

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Cocaine crosses the placenta and enters the baby's blood. Cocaine increases the heart rate in both the mother and the baby, reducing the supply of blood and oxygen to the baby.

Use of cocaine may increase the chance of miscarriage, early birth (premature birth) and smaller growth than expected before and after birth. Cocaine can affect the brain of a baby and may lead to learning and behaviour problems.

If cocaine is used close to birth, the baby may be born unsettled and showing symptoms of hyperactivity and agitation. Babies of mothers who regularly use cocaine may also experience withdrawal symptoms after birth, including breathing problems, sleepiness, poor feeding and lack of responsiveness.
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The information on this site should not be used as an alternative to professional care. If you have a particular problem, see your doctor or midwife.


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