Potential Hazards During Pregnancy


  • Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) is a condition found in babies whose mothers consumed alcohol while pregnant. FAS can cause physical and mental disabilities. One in five babies born with FAS do not live to see their first birthday. Physical disabilities may include: delayed physical growth; heart, liver, or kidney defects; hyperactivity, and facial deformities. Mental disabilities may include: mental retardation; difficulties with learning, attention, memory, or problem solving; the growth of brain tissue; poor coordination, and difficulty controlling behavior.
  • Petal alcohol effects are abnormalities caused by the mother consuming alcohol during pregnancy. Many of the problems are similar to those with FAS, but are usually less severe.

Prescription & Over-the-Counter Drugs

  • Check with your doctor before taking any type of medication, vitamin, or herbal supplement.
  • Medications taken toward the beginning of the pregnancy may cause birth defects such as missing limbs or mental retardation.
  • Medications taken later in the pregnancy (in the 4th through 9th months) may cause slow growth, infections, or bleeding at birth.
  • Medications that are not absolutely necessary should be avoided.


  • Nicotine is harmful to the health of any person, but it is especially harmful to a baby's development.
  • Smoking can cause low birth weights, as well as respiratory infections and allergies after they are born.
  • Heavy smoking can cause premature birth.


  • Caffeine may cause the the baby's heart rate and movement to increase.
  • Small quantities of caffeine do not seem to pose great pregnancy risks. However, larger quantities can cause an increased risk of miscarriage, premature birth, low birth weight, or infant death.
  • Caffeine can draw fluid and calcium out of the body and interfere with the absorption of iron.

Illegal Drugs

  • Mothers who are addicted to drugs usually pass the addiction on to their baby. After birth, newborns must go through a painful period of withdrawal. They may also suffer consequences that last a time such as learning and behavioral difficulties.
  • Cocaine has been proven to increase the risk of miscarriage, and it can also cause stillbirth or premature birth. Cocaine may also cause the unborn to have a stroke, resulting in possible brain damage, a heart attack, serious birth defects, or even death.
  • Babies exposed to illegal drugs often have a low birth weight or a premature birth.

Other Hazards

  • X-Rays
  • Paint
  • Pesticides
  • Lead (in water and paint)
  • Carbon Monoxide
  • Mercury (found in some fish)
  • Diseases & Infections