Nutrient Supplementation during the Prenatal Period in Substance-Using Mothers: A Narrative Review of the Effects on Offspring Development

Catherine A. Serwatka, Adrianne K. Griebel-Thompson, Rina D. Eiden, Kai Ling Kong

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Substance use during pregnancy increases the risk for poor developmental outcomes of the offspring, and for substance-dependent mothers, abstaining from substance use during pregnancy is often difficult. Given the addictive nature of many substances, strategies that may mitigate the harmful effects of prenatal substance exposure are important. Prenatal nutrient supplementation is an emerging intervention that may improve developmental outcomes among substance-exposed offspring. We provide a narrative review of the literature on micronutrient and fatty acid supplementation during pregnancies exposed to substance use in relation to offspring developmental outcomes. We first discuss animal models exposed to ethanol during pregnancy with supplementation of choline, zinc, vitamin E, iron, and fatty acids. We follow with human studies of both alcohol- and nicotine-exposed pregnancies with supplementation of choline and vitamin C, respectively. We identified only 26 animal studies on ethanol and 6 human studies on alcohol and nicotine that supplemented nutrients during pregnancy and reported offspring developmental outcomes. There were no studies that examined nutrient supplementation during pregnancies exposed to cannabis, illicit substances, or polysubstance use. Implementations and future directions are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2990
Issue number13
StatePublished - Jul 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Food Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics

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