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J Psychopharmacol. 2010 Sep;24(9):1403-10. doi: 10.1177/0269881109348165. Epub 2009 Nov 25.

During pregnancy, recreational drug-using women stop taking ecstasy (3,4-methylenedioxy-N-methylamphetamine) and reduce alcohol consumption, but continue to smoke tobacco and cannabis: initial findings from the Development and Infancy Study.

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  • 1University of East London, London, UK.


While recreational drug use in UK women is prevalent, to date there is little prospective data on patterns of drug use in recreational drug-using women immediately before and during pregnancy. A total of 121 participants from a wide range of backgrounds were recruited to take part in the longitudinal Development and Infancy Study (DAISY) study of prenatal drug use and outcomes. Eighty-six of the women were interviewed prospectively while pregnant and/or soon after their infant was born. Participants reported on use immediately before and during pregnancy and on use over their lifetime. Levels of lifetime drug use of the women recruited were high, with women reporting having used at least four different illegal drugs over their lifetime. Most users of cocaine, 3,4-methylenedioxy-N-methylamphetamine (MDMA) and other stimulants stopped using these by the second trimester and levels of use were low. However, in pregnancy, 64% of the sample continued to use alcohol, 46% tobacco and 48% cannabis. While the level of alcohol use reduced substantially, average tobacco and cannabis levels tended to be sustained at pre-pregnancy levels even into the third trimester (50 cigarettes and/or 11 joints per week). In sum, while the use of 'party drugs' and alcohol seems to reduce, levels of tobacco and cannabis use are likely to be sustained throughout pregnancy. The data provide polydrug profiles that can form the basis for the development of more realistic animal models.

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