The abuse of licit and illicit drugs is a worldwide issue that is a cause for concern in pregnant women. It may
lead to complications in pregnancy that may affect the mother, fetus, and /or neonate. The effects of any substance on the
developing embryo and fetus are dependent upon dosing, timing, duration of drug exposure, and the extent of drug distribution.
Teratogenic effects have been described when exposure takes place during the embryonic stage; however drugs
have subtle effects, including abnormal growth and/or maturation, alterations in neurotransmitters and their receptors, and
brain organization. The mechanisms by which intrauterine exposure to many substances may result in neuronal injury
have not been completely elucidated. Oxidative stress and epigenetic changes have been recently implicated in the pathogenesis
of long – term adverse health sequelae, and neuro-developmental impairment in the offspring of addicted
mothers. Transgenerational epigenetics may also explain the alarming datum that developmental abnormalities, impairment in learning
and memory, and attention deficit can occur even in the absence of direct fetal exposure, when drugs are consumed prior to conception.
There is a growing body of evidence demonstrating a link between redox state unbalance, epigenetic markers, developmental anomalies,
The reviewed literature data uphold redox homeostasis disruption as an important factor in the pathogenesis of drug of abuse- induced
neurodegeneration, and highlight the potential for new therapies that could prevent neurodegeneration through antioxidant and epigenetic
modulatory mechanisms. This therefore reveals important targets for novel neuroprotective strategies.