Pregnant women with drug, alcohol or tobacco habits who take steps to get over their addictions can lower their risk of pregnancy complications to make it comparable to women who do not have such addictions, according to a new study.

The study, printed online in the Journal of Perinatology, studied 49,000 pregnant women. Researchers examined the use of cigarettes, alcohol, marijuana, methamphetamines, cocaine and heroin by women in the group, as well as the effects of a prenatal substance abuse treatment program on some of the women.

The researchers found that substance abuse screening and treatment, combined with early prenatal care, had a positive effect on the mother and child’s health. Substance abusers who took part in the treatment program lowered their risk of complications, such as having low-birth-weight babies, stillbirths, and preterm labor or delivery.

If you are a pregnant woman struggling with drug, alcohol or tobacco addiction, seek help immediately in order to protect you and your baby’s health. Talk to your doctor about ways to have a healthy pregnancy. For more information, read “On Fertile Ground” in the spring 2008 issue of Real Health.