Meth Use and Pregnancy

The first study to look at meth and potential lasting effects on children whose mothers used it in pregnancy finds these kids at higher risk for behavior problems than other children.
The behavior differences – anxiety, depression, moodiness – weren’t huge, but lead researcher Linda LaGasse called them “very worrisome.”

Meth is a stimulant like crack cocaine, and earlier research showed meth babies have similarities to so-called “crack babies” -smaller in size and prone to drowsiness and stress. Results in long-term studies conflict on whether children of cocaine-using mothers have lasting behavior problems. Whether problems persist in young children of meth users is unknown. But LaGasse, who does research at Brown University’s Centre of the Study of Children at Risk, said methamphetamine has stronger effects on the brain so it may be more likely to cause lasting effects in children.
The study was published online in Pediatrics. The National Institutes of Health paid for the research, including a grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Government data suggest more than 10 million Americans have used meth; fewer than 1 percent of pregnant women are users.
Joseph Frascella, who heads a behavioral division at the National Institute on Drug Abuse, said the research is among “groundbreaking” studies examining effects of substance abuse during pregnancy. But because the study is a first, the results should be viewed cautiously and need to be repeated, he said.

The study of children tracked from age three through five builds on earlier research by LaGasse on the same group – 330 youngsters tracked in the Midwest and West, areas where meth use is most common. Mothers were recruited shortly after giving birth in Des Moines, Iowa; Honolulu, Los Angeles, and Tulsa, Oklahoma. They were asked about prenatal meth use and newborns’ stools were tested for evidence of the drug. Effects in children exposed to the drug were compared with those whose mothers didn’t use meth. Both groups were high-risk children, with many living in disadvantaged homes.

Mothers or other caregivers completed a widely used checklist asking how often kids showed many kinds of troublesome behavior.
At age three, scores for anxiety, depression and moodiness were slightly higher in meth-users’ children. These differences persisted at age five. The older children who’d been exposed to meth also had more aggression and attention problems similar to ADHD, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Mothers were asked about symptoms, but not if their kids had ever been diagnosed with behavior disorders.

More than half of the mothers who’d used meth during pregnancy also used it afterwards. These women also were more likely to use other drugs during and after pregnancy and to be single mothers. But the researchers said accounting for those differences and others in the two groups’ family lives didn’t change the results.

2 comments on “Meth Use and Pregnancy
  1. Thank you for sharing your info. I really appreciate your efforts and I am waiting for
    your next post thanks once again.

  2. Yvonne says:

    This article makes it sound like these kids have very mild problems. Maybe it’s where I reside but there are ,unfortunately, a huge amount of “women” that use meth or ice during pregnancy here. I have five sons and 11 grandchildren. I have a 8 year old granddaughter that I have had since she was ten days old due to her meconium coming back positive for meth among other drugs. She has no parental contact, by their own choosing, but that is beyond the point I am trying to get to. The effects of meth on these kids is beyond anything I have EVER seen in my life. When she was born, I was there in the delivery room, I named her, they didn’t even have a name picked out. When she ended up in my custody ten days later, I was truly in denial and unprepared for what was to come. This child was and still is a hot mess. The doctors told me back then, “oh you don’t know what the effects will be as she grows, she may have learning disabilities, blah blah blah” was all I really heard. Denial, denial, denial. I told them “Oh, she’ll be fine!” Well, I thought so. To this point, she has severe learning disabilities, she wants to learn to read SO BADLY, and she can not do math to save her life, however, she does try. She can’t read, but she tries. There are no support groups for us grandparents raising meth grandchildren, and there needs to be!!! This child has 8 diagnoses at this point and I get no relief for a moment of free me time. She is a closet eater, and a hoarder besides her things that are diagnosed. She is on many prescriptions, for various things. She does have ADHD, and Attachment anxiety. She has so many diagnoses that I can’t even remember them all. She is the most beautiful child I’ve ever seen, much less had the pleasure to raise. She is very intelligent, yet she can’t read or write. She can barely write her name at a pre-K level. I wish I knew how to help her. Besides love her and nurture her. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated. No one that isn’t raising a special child, such as her beautiful self, I don’t think could understand! She is very very loving and also very very needy. I hate having to have her medicated but she is not ok non medicated. And neither am I. I need her to be medicated so I can even begin to deal with her behaviors. People need to WAKE UP and stress what this does to an in-utero baby. There needs to be more accurate studies so we, the parents raising these children, may know some of what to expect! One time she was eating pizza and I heard the window in the dining room break, and she said “I wanted Spot to have a piece of pizza” She is so loving and nurturing and means well, but the compulsivity is out there. Oh, and did I say I’m totally in Momma love with this sweet girl?!!! I totally am, I just wish there were help for these children besides meds. Like I said, any help or suggestions will be greatly appreciated. Thank you for reading!! ;)

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