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

Nutrients. 2018 Aug 2;10(8):1008. 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.

Keywords: Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD); Intrauterine Growth Restriction (IUGR); alcohol; drugs of abuse; fetal nutrition; maternal nutrition; pregnancy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol Drinking / adverse effects*
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology
  • Alcohol Drinking / physiopathology
  • Alcoholism / blood
  • Alcoholism / epidemiology
  • Alcoholism / physiopathology*
  • Alcoholism / therapy
  • Female
  • Fetal Development / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Maternal Exposure / adverse effects
  • Maternal Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*
  • Maternal-Fetal Exchange
  • Nutritional Status*
  • Nutritional Support
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / blood
  • Pregnancy Complications / epidemiology
  • Pregnancy Complications / physiopathology*
  • Pregnancy Complications / therapy
  • Risk Factors
  • Substance-Related Disorders / blood
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / therapy