Using meth during pregnancy can be even worse than cocaine in terms of the drug’s negative impact on babies, according to the authors of new study published in the journal Pediatrics.
Researchers from Brown University followed 166 children whose mothers were known to have abused methamphetamine during their pregnancy. They compared their development and behavior at ages three and five with children who had not been exposed to the drug, and found they were much more likely to have psychological and behavioral problems. These included showing signs of depression and anxiety by age three, and symptoms of ADHD by age five.
In an interview with HealthDay, the study’s lead author Linda LaGasse, PhD, said that meth goes right into the placenta and affects the brain, adding, “The stimulant drug is thought to be even more potent than cocaine because it lasts longer in the body.”
Previous studies have found other negative effects of meth use during pregnancy, including poor fetal growth, premature delivery and an increased risk of birth defects like cleft lip or palate, according to the March of Dimes.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that 1.2 million Americans abused meth in 2009. Of those seeking treatment for meth abuse that year, 6.7% were pregnant women.
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