Posted by: vanhoff | April 13, 2008

Betrayal- Prenatal Substance Abuse

Betrayal- Prenatal Substance Abuse

 

The documentary, Influences: Innocence Betrayed, investigates prenatal substance abuse and its effects upon pregnancy, family and society as a whole. The video examines the exposure to certain substances by the mother; which during pregnancy constitute as prenatal abuse. These substances include a wide assortment of illegal drugs and alcohol. However, interestingly over-the-counter medications can affect the overall health of the unborn child too. Even when used casually by the mother or possibly the father, legal or illegal substances can have horrific consequences to the child’s nervous system during critical, peak times in the embryo’s development. Data concerning newborns exposed to illegal drugs, including crack but not limited to, are fragmented and incomplete. However, with new technology, scientists are able to grasp and understand the effects that these substances have on the newborn.

The very definition of prenatal substance abuse can be vague; however any substance that can influence the overall pregnancy is considered abuse. Usually attributed to illicit drugs and alcohol, other prescribed and non-prescribed medications can also affect the overall health of the fetus. The effects of prenatal exposure to a newborn can be divided into two categories: prenatal effects and postnatal effects, and the latter may be divided into effects on infants, toddlers, pre-school children and school children. The causes behind prenatal substance abuse vary, however addiction to drugs and alcohol stem from psychological and physical addiction.

The major consequences of prenatal abuse not only hamper the child’s health, but also affect society in numerous ways. Society is affected by the increased health care costs and educational expenses attributed from the affected fetuses due to substance abuse. Financially, the United States health care system is not adequately funded to handle cases where 11% of children born are exposed to such chemicals. I believe that the fetus is a distinct entity, and teaching the mothers of the unborn children either through education or counseling will help guide them through their addiction; thus saving the fetus. To incarcerate an addicted mother is not the answer. For this only will perpetuate further incarcerations, thus costing tax payers millions to house pregnant inmates.  Women serve the unique role of giving birth to our next generation. This role is often separated from the woman itself creating two distinct entities, the woman and her fetus. Though this recommendation does ask society as a whole to fund such educational programs, the overall financial burden would be greatly depreciated.

The very definition of prenatal substance abuse can be vague; however any substance that can influence the overall pregnancy is considered abuse. Usually attributed to illicit drugs and alcohol, other prescribed and non-prescribed medications can also affect the overall health of the fetus. The effects of prenatal exposure to a newborn can be divided into two categories: prenatal effects and postnatal effects, and the latter may be divided into effects on infants, toddlers, pre-school children and school-age children. The causes behind prenatal substance abuse vary, however addiction to drugs and alcohol stem from psychological and physical addiction.

For the United States is not the only nation suffering this phenomenon. Many nations are dealing with this very problem; thus impacting healthcare systems and educational institutions. Families are being broken apart and are forced to take action against the mother who is carrying the baby. Family is very important and with the right resources and educational tools they could create a healthy environment for both the mother and the newborn.

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