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Effects of Parental Substance Abuse on Children

The abuse of drugs by a parent or caretaker can have a profound effect on children. It is estimated that over 550,000 children born every year are exposed to alcohol or illegal drugs. Children who are exposed to illegal drugs and alcohol are at risk for biological diseases and are often subject to child neglect.

Children who are subject to drugs as infants are at great risk for medical problems. Drug use can effect an infants birth weight, which is very important to a children's overall health and development. Studies show that children who weigh less than 5 1/2 pounds are subject to serious medical problems. Infants that are exposed to drugs or alcohol often do not experience normal developmental stages.

When unborn baby's are exposed to alcohol and drug use, the risk of premature birth is higher than those who are not exposed. Infants who weigh less than three pounds is associated with poor physical growth and poor general health.

Infants who are exposed to drug use my exhibit difficulty in swallowing, sucking and distractibility and are at greater risk of parental neglect. Many of these children live in homes that are unfit for newborns and children. Parents who are using illegal drugs in the presence of newborns are subject to criminal charges by state and local officials.

Mothers who consume large amounts of alcohol during pregnancy, have an increased chance of their infant being born with fetal alcohol syndrome. Many of these children will be born with learning disabilities and emotional disorders as they get older.

When infants are exposed to drug and alcohol use, they may experience unpredictable sleeping patterns and feeding difficulties. Newborns may also face irritabilities and atypical social interactions.

Preschool children who are exposed to drug and alcohol abuse may be hyperactive and have mood swings. They also may have short attention spans and may experience difficulties processing hearing or visual information.

If you know about a child that is being exposed to drugs and alcohol, report it to your local government agency. This child may also be subject to child abuse and neglect. The earlier the treatment for children who are in the household were their exposed to alcohol and drugs, the decreased chances they will suffer from long-term effects.

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