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Medically Reviewed

The Effects of LSD on Pregnancy

How Does LSD Affect Pregnant Women and Unborn Babies?

There are some findings that show the use of LSD during pregnancy can cause birth defects, although the majority of these studies were carried out a long time ago. These include documented cases of babies born with eye abnormalities, such as cataracts and retinal dysplasia, following maternal use of LSD during pregnancy.1-2 There are also several case reports of mothers who were administered LSD for medical reasons and subsequently gave birth to babies without any birth defects.3

LSD accumulates in the placenta during pregnancy, and findings from studies with rodents have shown that the drug can significantly compromise fetal blood flow.4 In another study, LSD produced changes in isolated rat uterine smooth muscle that are similar to the effects of agents used to hasten childbirth.5 These results suggest that the use of LSD might increase the chance to have a miscarriage.

The use of LSD during pregnancy can also be related to pregnancy complications in less direct ways. Pregnant women who use LSD may have unhealthy and risky lifestyles that can pose a threat to the well-being of both the mother and her unborn child. For example, many people who use LSD may also use other drugs, such as alcohol or marijuana. There is substantial evidence that suggests prenatal exposure to marijuana increases the risk for preterm delivery and low birthweight,6 while alcohol consumption during pregnancy places the baby at risk for fetal alcohol syndrome, miscarriage, and stillbirth.7

What is LSD?

Lysergic acid diethylamide, commonly known as LSD, is a very potent hallucinogenic drug. Although many people associate LSD use with the psychedelic ’60s, this drug is still commonly used today. According to recent results from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, nearly 1 in 10 individuals aged 12 or older reported using LSD during their lifetime.8

In addition to an altered state of mind that is characterized by hallucinations and delusions, some other common effects associated with LSD include increased blood pressure, rapid heart rate, dilated pupils, sleeplessness, and loss of appetite.9 Some of these side effects can be especially dangerous to a pregnant woman and may pose even greater risks to a developing baby.

Treatment Options

If you are pregnant or considering getting pregnant and currently use LSD, please be aware that your substance abuse is dangerous not only for yourself but also your child. While experiencing the hallucinogenic effects of LSD you are more likely to make poor decisions or be in an accident that can cause harm to your baby. Previous research also shows a fetus exposed to LSD may be at an increased risk of developing certain birth defects.

In addition to the increased risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes, you may also face legal ramifications. In almost half of the states in the U.S. substance abuse during pregnancy is grounds for terminating parental rights,10 while in other states prenatal substance abuse is a criminal act of child abuse and neglect that can be prosecuted.11 For the well-being of both mother and child, pregnant women are typically given the opportunity to join a treatment program at a rehab facility rather than face time in jail.

If you are psychologically addicted to the hallucinogenic effects of LSD, there are multiple inpatient and outpatient treatment centers that are ready to help you overcome your addiction. Please contact an addiction specialist today to learn about counseling, support groups, and therapies (such as dialectical behavioral therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and lifestyle skills therapy) that have been proven to help individuals overcome their dependency on LSD.

Sources

  1. Holmes, L.B. (1975). Ocular malformations associated with maternal LSD usage. Archives of Ophthalmology, 93(10), 1061.
  2. Chan, C.C., Fishman, M., & Egbert, P.R. (1978). Multiple ocular anomalies associated with maternal LSD ingestion. Archives of Ophthalmology, 96(2), 282-284.
  3. Aase, J.M., Laestadius, N., & Smith, D.W. (1970). Children of mothers who took L.S.D. in pregnancy. Lancet, 1(7663), 100-101.
  4. Zhang, L., & Dyer, D.C. (1993). Lysergic acid diethylamide is a partial agonist at 5-HT2 receptors in ovine uterine artery of late pregnancy. European Journal of Pharmacology, 230(1), 115-117.
  5. Hashimoto, H., Hayashi, M., Nakahara, Y., Niwaguchi, T., & Ishii, H. (1977). Actions of D-lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) and its derivatives on 5-hydroxytryptamine receptors in the isolated uterine smooth muscle of the rat. European Journal of Pharmacology, 45(4), 341-348.
  6. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2018). What You Need to Know About Marijuana Use and Pregnancy.
  7. Denny, C.H., Acero, C.S., Naimi, T.S., & Kim, S.Y. (2019). Consumption of Alcohol Beverages and Binge Drinking Among Pregnant Women Aged 18–44 Years — United States, 2015–2017. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 68(16), 365–368.
  8. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018). National Survey of Drug Use and Health.
  9. Drug Enforcement Administration. (2018). D-Lysergic Acid Diethylamide.
  10. Guttmacher Institute. (2019). Substance Use During Pregnancy.
  11. Tennessee General Assembly. (2019). House Bill 1168.
Last Updated on July 17, 2020
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