Research: The Effects of Alcohol and Drugs of Abuse on Maternal Nutritional Profile during Pregnancy


Nutrients. 2018 Aug; 10(8): 1008.
Published online 2018 Aug 2. doi:  10.3390/nu10081008


The consumption of alcohol and drugs of abuse among pregnant women has experienced a significant increase in the last decades. Suitable maternal nutritional status is crucial to maintain the optimal environment for fetal development but if consumption of alcohol or drugs of abuse disrupt the intake of nutrients, the potential teratogenic effects of these substances increase.

Despite evidence of the importance of nutrition in addicted pregnant women, there is a lack of information on the effects of alcohol and drugs of abuse on maternal nutritional status; so, the focus of this review was to provide an overview on the nutritional status of addicted mothers and fetuses.

Alcohol and drugs consumption can interfere with the absorption of nutrients, impairing the quality and quantity of proper nutrient and energy intake, resulting in malnutrition especially of micronutrients (vitamins, omega–3, folic acid, zinc, choline, iron, copper, selenium).

When maternal nutritional status is compromised by alcohol and drugs of abuse the supply of essential nutrients are not available for the fetus; this can result in fetal abnormalities like Intrauterine Growth Restriction (IUGR) or Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). It is critical to find a strategy to reduce fetal physical and neurological impairment as a result of prenatal alcohol and drugs of abuse exposure combined with poor maternal nutrition. Prenatal nutrition interventions and target therapy are required that may reverse the development of such abnormalities.

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