Ecstasy, methamphetamine and other amphetamines

The use of Ecstasy and methamphetamine has increased dramatically in recent years. Methamphetamine is also known as speed, ice, crank and crystal meth.

A 2006 study found that babies of women who used this drug were more likely to grow poorly before birth. Even when born full term, these babies tend to weigh less than 5 1/2 pounds. Also, the size of their heads tends to be smaller than normal. There have also been cases of birth defects, including heart defects and cleft lip/palate.

Methamphetamine appears to contribute to pregnancy complications including:

For more information on methamphetamine and pregnancy, see the fact sheet from the Organization of Teratology Information Services.

Ecstasy is a type of amphetamine. There have been few studies on how Ecstasy may affect pregnancy. One small study found a possible increase in congenital heart defects and a skeletal defect called clubfoot (only in girls).

Babies exposed to Ecstasy before birth also may face some of the same risks as babies exposed to other types of amphetamines. After birth, these babies may have withdrawal-like symptoms, including jitteriness, drowsiness and breathing problems.

For more information, read the fact sheet Illicit Drug Use During Pregnancy. The March of Dimes encourages all women to avoid illicit drugs during pregnancy.

January 2008

Most common questions

Can I keep taking all my prescriptions during pregnancy?

It depends on the drug. Tell your prenatal care provider about any prescription drugs you take. Some drugs may be harmful to a growing baby. You may need to stop taking a drug or switch to a drug that's safer for your baby. Don't take anyone else's prescription drugs. And don't take any prescription drug unless your prenatal care provider knows about it.

I drank before I knew I was pregnant. Is my baby hurt?

It's unlikely that an occasional drink before you realized you were pregnant will harm your baby. But the baby's brain and other organs begin developing around the third week of pregnancy, so they could be affected by alcohol in these early weeks. The patterns of drinking that place a baby at greatest risk for fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs) are binge drinking and drinking seven or more drinks per week. However, FASDs can and do occur in babies of women who drink less. Because no amount of alcohol has been proven safe during pregnancy, a woman should stop drinking immediately if she even suspects she could be pregnant. And she should not drink alcohol if she is trying to become pregnant.

Is it OK to drink wine in my third trimester?

No amount of alcohol has been proven safe during pregnancy. To ensure your baby's health and safety, don't drink alcohol while you're pregnant. Alcohol includes beer, wine, wine coolers and liquor. If you need help to stop drinking alcohol, tell your health care provider.

©2013 March of Dimes Foundation. The March of Dimes is a non-profit organization recognized as tax-exempt under Internal Revenue Code section 501(c)(3).