6 Pregnancy Risks & Their Effects

Pregnancy is the very start of child development and a time when women are often more motivated to make healthy choices in order to achieve giving every child the best start in life.

Here are some risk factors during pregnancy and their potential effect in children.


Not only does it cause impaired fetal growth, low birth weight and preterm birth, smoking is also associated with an increased risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, neonatal death and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) Tobacco exposure during pregnancy causes a great harm.

Smoking prevalence during pregnancy remains unacceptable.


It is safest not to drink alcohol at all during pregnancy. However, if you do decide to drink while you’re pregnant, limit it to one or two units of alcohol, no more than once or twice a week, and never enough to get drunk.

Heavy alcohol consumption during pregnancy may cause a birth defect called fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). It may also damage the fetal brain without affecting other organs or tissues. It generally varies from child to child, but defects caused are not reversible.


Use of illicit drugs is associated with problems in child development. Particular concerns have been expressed about the effects of illicit drugs such as heroin, cocaine, cannabis and ecstasy on the fetus. Drugs increases the chance of birth defects, premature babies, underweight babies, and stillborn births.

Exposure to marijuana and alcohol before birth has been proven to cause behavior problems in early childhood. These drugs can also affect the child’s memory and attentiveness.


Maternal under-nutrition in pregnancy is associated with the development of heart disease in the adult offspring. Folate supplementation should be observed during the time of conception and continued through early pregnancy. It has been shown to reduce the risk of birth defects such as spina bifida. It is recommended that women take 400 micrograms of folic acid each day during this time. Vitamin D supplementation in pregnancy is highly recommended too.

It is advised that pregnant and breastfeeding women should take a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms of vitamin D.


Obesity causes increased risks to the mother’s health through gestational diabetes. It can also be associated with large-sized babies (macrosomia). Babies with macrosomia are in the increased risk of later developing obesity themselves.


Since stress may be a manifestation of an underlying psychiatric disorder such as depression or anxiety, pregnant women complaining of symptoms of stress and women with other symptoms of psychiatric illness should be evaluated.

For stress which is not related to an underlying disorder then relaxation, exercise or counselling may be beneficial.

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