03/01/2012 11:02 am ET

Taking Ecstasy During Pregnancy Is Bad For Baby's Health (STUDY)

Taking ecstasy while you’re pregnant might have a negative impact on your baby. Shocking, right? (Sarcasm intended.) But, seriously, the list of pregnancy no-nos now officially looks like this: alcohol, sushi, cold cuts, MDMA ...

As part of the University of East London Drugs and Infancy Study, led by Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, 96 British women were interviewed regarding their substance abuse both before and during pregnancy, HealthDay reported. The majority of women interviewed had used a number of illegal drugs -- including ecstasy -- during both periods of time. Researchers then measured certain indicators of health, specifically each baby’s size, motor skills and brain development right after birth and after four months.

The children of mothers who took ecstasy (also known as MDMA) were developmentally behind those who had not been exposed to the drug in-utero. Researchers found that MDMA-exposed infants had worse motor skills and hand-eye coordination, as well as greater difficulty holding their heads up and sitting without external support, reported HealthDay.

This isn’t the first study that’s looked at the impact of ecstasy during pregnancy -- a drug that in 2009 2.8 million Americans had used. A study published in the journal Neurotoxicity and Teratology in 2003, found that taking ecstasy during the first trimester could put one’s child at risk for brain damage. However, the 2003 study relied on rats while the University of East London Drugs and Infancy Study used data gathered from pregnant women.

"The potential harmful effects of ecstasy exposure on prenatal and infant development have long been a concern," said Lynn Singer, a professor at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and study author, in a press release. "The drug’s negative effects are particularly risky for pregnant women, who may use the drug without being aware of their condition."

Another surprising potential side effect of taking MDMA during pregnancy has to do with the drug’s impact on the baby’s gender. The researchers found an association between male births and ecstasy exposure. But even if you’ve always wanted a boy, you’re probably better off forgoing the illegal drugs. Let’s all agree to leave them on the list of obvious pregnancy no-nos.