“..we are able to track these children and better understand the long-term effects of prenatal methamphetamine exposure.”
~ Dr. Lynne Smith, researcher, Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute
According to brand-new research published in the Journal of Pediatrics, prenatal exposure to methamphetamine creates a significant risk of later cognitive impairment. This is the first long-term study of its kind.
After studying 151 children whose mothers use methamphetamine during pregnancy, and then comparing their outcomes to roughly the same number of children who were not exposed, researchers discovered that prenatal meth exposure created and almost tripled risk of cognitive problems later on.
Troubles in School
At age 7 and a half, the meth-exposed children:
- Learned slower than their peers
- Had trouble organizing their work
- Found it difficult to complete tasks
- Struggled to stay focused
These results from the UCLA Medical Center echoed previous similar work in Sweden, where researchers concluded that pre-birth exposure to meth led to:
- Lower IQ scores
- Poorer school performance
- Aggressive behavior
The Swedish study followed the children until age 15, but it did not compare their development to non-exposed children.
The Hazards of Using Drugs While Pregnant
Substance abuse during pregnancy is a real concern, with about 1 in 20 expectant mothers self-reporting illicit drug use. Females use methamphetamine at a rate that is almost equal to that of males.
In the specific case of methamphetamine, the drug causes a restriction of oxygen and nutrients to the still-developing fetus. There are also other potential long-term complications, because methamphetamine can cross through the placenta and enter the bloodstream of the unborn baby.
The hope is that in the future, timely intervention can help both the drug-using mothers and the affected children. Dr. Smith says, “By identifying deficits early in the child’s life, we can intervene sooner and help them overcome these deficits to help them have greater success in school and in life.”
If you’re pregnant and worried about the effect that your substance use may be having on your unborn child, contact Lasting Recovery outpatient drug rehab in San Diego to get the help you need.