Drug Testing During Pregnancy: Laws & Drug Effects on Baby

Numerous evaluations will take place during your prenatal appointments to ensure the health and security of both you and your baby during your pregnancy. However, certain exams can also offer doctors additional insights beyond your physical state.

Do they drug test at pregnancy appointments? You can only be drug tested at a prenatal appointment if you give consent as it is illegal to drug test without receiving consent from the patient. Top advisors in the field recommend that all women be drug tested at their first prenatal appointment, but currently, you must give permission first.

Drug testing can help ensure you get the help you need if you are addicted to a substance while pregnant. However, many women get nervous about their doctors finding out they are substance abusers.

Prenatal Urine Testing

Come to your prenatal appointments ready to tinkle because urine tests help doctors assess a variety of things about your health and pregnancy.

What Do They Test Urine for at Prenatal Visits?

The results of a urine test at your prenatal visit offers your doctor invaluable information that has nothing to do with drug use.

Testing your urine lets your doctor see if you’re dehydrated, at risk for gestational diabetes, or harboring an infection in your kidneys or bladder. It can even indicate whether you are at risk for preeclampsia.

Routine Tests During Pregnancy

In early pregnancy, your blood and urine will be tested for the following:

  • Sexually transmitted infections
  • Rubella
  • HIV
  • Tuberculosis
  • Hepatitis
  • Infections 

Your doctor will also test your blood type and your RH status. You may also receive other tests based on your risks and genetics.

Drug Testing During Pregnancy

You can be drug tested during pregnancy but only with your consent. If you are using drugs while pregnant, you need to seek help so you can have the safest pregnancy possible.

Can OB/GYN Drug Test Without Consent?

Your OB/GYN cannot drug test you without consent. It is illegal. However, they can drug test your baby after he or she is born.

Is It Illegal To Use Drugs During Pregnancy?

While it’s illegal to use certain drugs whether you are pregnant or not, using them during pregnancy can mean stiffer consequences in certain states.

If your drug use results in the harm or stillbirth of your child, you may be tried in court for your actions.

What Happens if You Test Positive for Drugs During Pregnancy?

What happens to you if you fail a drug test while pregnant will often depend on what state you live in during this time.

While some states focus on getting help for moms addicted to drugs while pregnant, others will seek jail time for the mother if she fails a drug test.

Do They Drug Test Baby After Delivery?

The answer is complicated. Some states do drug test babies using the umbilical cord or meconium, but others do not.

Some states may choose universal testing to ensure there is no bias when it comes to whom they’re choosing to test. Other states opt for risk-based testing. 

Each state and hospital will have its own guidelines for if they choose to test.

What Happens if a Newborn Tests Positive for Drugs?

Again, where you are when you give birth will determine what happens if your baby tests positive for drugs after birth.

You will likely be offered help for your addiction, but you may not have access to your baby. In some states, you may be prosecuted for drug use.

Drug Use During First Three Weeks of Pregnancy

You may not even know you’re pregnant in the very early days of your pregnancy. However, drug use can negatively impact your baby during this time.

Using drugs during the first three weeks of pregnancy can increase the risk of your child having a birth defect or other developmental issues. It can also increase your chances of miscarrying.

Drug Use During Pregnancy

A model of a full-term baby in the womb with fuzzy pink background.

Alcohol

No amount of alcohol is considered safe when you are pregnant, but many women continue to drink anyway. The consequences to the baby can be permanent.

Your baby cannot process alcohol in the womb because the liver is one of the last organs to develop. This makes alcohol especially dangerous for your child when they are in the womb. 

Some babies have fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) if they are born to a mother who drank while pregnant. FASD can cause mental, emotional, and physical problems for your child throughout life.

Nicotine

You may not consider nicotine a drug, but smoking while pregnant can have a profoundly negative effect on your child. Your child’s tissues will be affected, and this can result in damage to the brain and lungs. 

Moms who smoke are more likely to miscarry, and their babies are at risk of being born preterm.

Marijuana

Smoking marijuana is not a good way to chill out while pregnant.

Low birth weight and neurological issues have been associated with marijuana use in mothers, and your child will also experience the negative effects of the toxins in the marijuana smoke.

DrugEffect on Baby
AlcoholLow IQ, heart problems, low body weight, learning disabilities, hearing and vision issues
MarijuanaStillbirth, preterm labor, developmental issues
OpiatesBehavioral issues, stillbirth, birth defects
AmphetaminesProblems with brain development, learning disabilities, growth issues
HeroinBirth defects, stillbirth, developmental issues
CocaineMiscarriage, preterm labor, breathing problems

Treatment for Substance Abuse

If you are struggling with substance abuse while pregnant, there are places where you can get help.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has a number you can call any time to ask for help. They can refer you to a place in your state where you can seek treatment.

You can also talk to your doctor and ask for a referral to a drug or alcohol treatment center so you can get clean while pregnant and stay clean after the baby is born.

This may mean in-patient or out-patient care. The outcome will depend on your circumstances and the help you receive and accept. 

Even if you have used drugs while pregnant, you can still stop. It will benefit your child for you to discontinue drug use at any point during your pregnancy. 

Related Questions: 

Do They Test for Alcohol During Pregnancy?

It’s not likely that your doctor will test for alcohol during pregnancy, though you may be asked questions about your drinking habits.

Alcohol use during pregnancy is often found when a child is born with issues related to a woman drinking while pregnant. 

How Long Does Nicotine Stay in Breastmilk After Smoking?

If you choose to smoke while breastfeeding, know that nicotine can stay in your breastmilk for three full hours after your cigarette.

Final Thoughts

Using drugs or alcohol while pregnant puts your baby at risk. If you need help with addiction, don’t hesitate to ask for it so you can have a healthy pregnancy and keep your baby safe.