Fetal Abuse is a social problem that has caused heated debate for the past two decades. Since 1985, many studies have been conducted on the effects of substances such as alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, heroine, and nicotine on the unborn child. This marked the beginning of fetal abuse's transformation from a social issue to a social problem. After these studies were conducted, the results found were very concerning to society. Negative effects were found in children born to mothers using the substances, effects that are permanent, including physical deformities and mental impairment.
An example of the negative effects of substance abusing pregnant women can be seen in the phenomena of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, and the related, less severe, Fetal Alcohol Effects. A woman puts her child at risk for developing many problems when she consumes alcohol during pregnancy. These problems include: low birth weight, irregularly small head size, clubfoot, facial deformities, mental retardation, learning disabilities, behavioral problems, and problems with the liver, kidneys, heart, and joints.
Infants who are born to drug addicted mothers are often faced with going through withdrawal from their mother's drug of choice. The symptoms of withdrawal that an infant may experience include: hyperactivity, sleeping and eating problems, fussiness, breathing problems, vomiting, diarrhea, and convulsions. Long-term development is also at risk of being affected in infants whose mothers' used drugs while pregnant.
The effects that were found in the studies done on infants and children who were exposed to these various substances shocked and alarmed society. Political leaders, community organizations, and religious associations all began to express their opinions on the subject. This is were the claims-making process began. People felt that the babies that were being born to these mothers were subjected involuntarily to these dangerous substances and through no choice of their own they were made to endure the long-term consequences. As society began to recognize the problems brought about by substance abusing pregnant women what was once a social issue became defined as a social problem. These pregnant women were creating a problem that would effect American communities socially, politically, and economically.
Socially, the problem impacts both the mother and the child. The stereotypes that exist are that drug abuse is predominantly a problem effecting the lower class. The mothers who are unable to afford prenatal care and substance abuse treatment are seen as a burden to society. Economically, the burden is placed on society when a child is born to a drug addicted mother. Long-term medical care of these children is often related to increased health-care costs. Often, when mothers are deemed unfit to care for their child, the government is the party that absorbs the costs of the child's care. Then there is the political...