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Substance and alcohol missuse

In this section you will learn about substance and alcohol use.

Alcohol and illicit drug use, such as cannabis, ecstasy, cocaine and heroin, during pregnancy can have severe consequences for the unborn baby.  The substances pass easily across the placenta into the developing foetus to affect brain development, foetal growth and cause complications to the pregnant woman and the baby during delivery. 

There is no known safe limit of alcohol during pregnancy with higher amounts causing greater risk of causing harm to the developing foetus. 


Foetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) is the overarching terminology used for conditions that occur in a person caused by the mother drinking alcohol in pregnancy. 

For women who use alcohol or drugs regularly it is best to reduce the amount with support from the local drug and alcohol support service, ideally before becoming pregnant. 

  • How would you approach the conversation about drugs and alcohol use? 
  • Can you remember a conversation you have had or you have observed where this has been difficult and can you consider how this could have been improved? 
  • Do you know where the local drug and alcohol services are and how you can refer into these?