Examples of the effects of substance use during pregnancy include the following: Important examples include: Exposure to alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs of abuse during the prenatal period can affect children throughout their lifetime. An important goal of prevention is to change the balance between these so that the effects of protective factors outweigh those of risk factors.
Risk factors are qualities of a child or his or her environment that can adversely affect the child’s developmental trajectory and put the child at risk for later substance abuse or other behavioral problems. Protective factors are qualities of children and their environments that promote successful coping and adaptation to life situations and change. Protective factors are not simply the absence of risk factors rather, they may reduce or lessen the negative impact of risk factors (Cowen Work, 6988 Garmezy, 6985 Hawkins et al. Substances taken during pregnancy can cross the placenta, exposing the developing brain of the fetus to their effects. , 6997 Rutter, 6985 Werner, 6989). All children will have some mix of risk and protective factors. Research over the past three decades has identified many factors that can help differentiate individuals who are more likely to abuse drugs from those who are less likely to do so (Catalano et al. Both risk and protective factors may be internal to the child (such as genetic or personality traits or specific behaviors) or external (that is, arising from the child’s environment or context), or they may come from the interaction between internal and external influences. , 7566 Hawkins et al. Some factors that powerfully influence a child’s risk for later substance abuse and other problems have their strongest effects during specific periods of development.