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Signs of a Cocaine Baby

author image Megan Smith
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Signs of a Cocaine Baby
Small newborn baby in incubator. Photo Credit: metinkiyak/iStock/Getty Images

During pregnancy, all substances that the mother consumes, either beneficial and dangerous, are passed on to the child. If a pregnant woman consumes cocaine during her pregnancy, the child may not develop properly. Consulting a doctor is the ideal way to determine whether or not a child was born addicted to cocaine and what treatment, if any, is best.

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Low Birth Weight

A mother who used cocaine during pregnancy may have a child with a low birth weight, according to the article "Cocaine Use and Your Pregnancy" by the Institute for Research, Education and Training in Addictions. Cocaine use reduces the amount of oxygen that is sent to the baby's body, which causes the blood vessels to constrict. This lack of oxygen prevents that baby from growing properly. When cocaine is used with other drugs, such as cigarettes, the child's birth weight may be even lower, according to the Institute for Research, Education and Training in Addictions.


A child who is born addicted to cocaine may begin to exhibit symptoms of irritability about one or two days after being born. The baby may not show symptoms right away because it takes several hours for the cocaine to leave the body. As the baby begins to show symptoms, he is going into withdrawal. A baby going through cocaine withdrawal may have difficulty feeding and sleeping, may seem restless, may have spasms and may cry more than a healthy baby for the first eight to 10 weeks after birth.

Birth Defects

Babies who are born to a mother who used cocaine during pregnancy may be born with abnormalities, particularly if the baby's mother used cocaine regularly during the pregnancy. The baby may have an enlarged head after birth, notes the American Pregnancy Association in the article "Using Illegal Street Drugs During Pregnancy." Additionally, the child may have skull, brain, heart, eye and face abnormalities, as well as problems with the intestinal tract and urinary tract.

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