Although recent studies show that the use of methamphetamine among teens adults and lifetime consumers has decreased, researchers published a study showing the effects of the drug in babies. Meth babies have been shown to develop worrisome behavior problems.
Methamphetamine has a wide range of effects that impact the consumer’s health. From mild effects such as decreased appetite to rapid heart rate and hyperthermia to long term consequences such as dental problems that are branded as meth mouth, to mood disturbances, violent behavior and anxiety. Some consumers even go through a series of psychotic symptoms that range from paranoia to hallucinations and even the feeling of having insects crawling under the skin.
HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B and C are also common results of methamphetamine abuse. But since for many consuming meth while knowing the risks they’re subjected to feels like a choice that impacts only them, a new study comes to prove there is a link between mothers on meth and the health of their babies.
The journal Pediatrics published a study from researchers with the Brown University in Providence that found that children aged 3 to 5 years that had mothers using meth are subjected to a bigger risk of developing behavioral problems. Linda LaGasse, author of the study, called these problems to be “very worrisome”.
The problem at hand is that methamphetamine might be affecting children’s brains on the long term, but so far scientists were unable to pinpoint the exact duration of how long the meth remains active in children.
Mothers that were consuming meth during pregnancy subjected their babies to a higher risk of developing attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, aggressive tendencies, depression, anxiety and impulsiveness.
Joseph Frascella, head of the behavioral division at the National Institute on Drug Abuse, called the research “groundbreaking”. The Institute paid part of the costs involved in the research as part of their campaign to inform consumers about the risks of meth consumption.
As data from the government shows, there are more than 10 million Americans that have consumed meth and while the number of pregnant women using is less than 1 percent, the study pin points this is a serious matter.
Groundbreaking as the study has been ruled to be, the research remains the first in the field, but it will surely lead to others down the line.
Its inconceivable to me that a woman would take drugs while pregnant. Why aren’t the right wingers doing something about this tragedy by empowering these women with a choice?
If there was ever better evidence of the need for free contraceptives, Planned Parenthood counseling and insurance paid contraception — this is it. This is one of the “alternative uses for birth control” eveyone has been talking about — protection of the unborn.
My wife and I are very excited to see someone finally doing research on this growing problem.
In May 2008, we took custody of my then 8-month old nephew who was born addicted to meth. Sam (not his real name) had so much of the drug in his system at birth, that he was non-responsive to all stimuli for nearly three weeks, then cried literally every waking moment for the next 10 weeks as he detoxed. Sam was taken from his biological mother at birth and placed in foster care, as she admitted to using meth throughout the pregnancy, figuring “the damage has already been done.”
Unfortunately, we have seem Sam exhibit many of the effects mentioned in this report. He had difficulty forming a bond with my wife, and had trouble soothing himself as a baby. His fits often led to self-harming behaviors until after he learned to speak, and could better voice his frustrations. Although thankfully Sam’s cognitive functioning was unaffected (he is very intelligent), his speech & toilet training were delayed, he had trouble with re-occurring ear infections, and most recently, respiratory problems, our doctor suspects Asthma.
For all of Sam’s problems, the most heart-breaking have been behavioral. Sam has had problems with anger and impulse control. He often acted out violently towards my wife, and had difficulty displaying empathy for her. Love, and patience, assisted by family therapy and pre-school have helped enormously with his temperament issues.
Alas, after seemingly getting Sam’s rage issues under control, we are now seeing signs of hyperactivity and issues with his attention span. We hope to deal with, without pharmaceutical intervention. We have been very fortunate to be able to deal with the majority of Sam’s problems with a consistent sleep schedule, regular exercise, and limiting the amount of sugar he consumes, and have not had to resort to medicating him.
Needless to say, we love Sam very much, and are in the process of adopting him. Although we have been blessed to have the guidance of the finest family physician in the city where we live, we have been frustrated until now by the lack or research on meth babies.
We hope that if this research continues, that Sam can participate in it. As meth babies are a relatively new phenomena, we have witnessed first-hand, how cautious social, psychiatric, and medical professionals have had to tread with these children. It has been a learning process for all of us. More needs to be done to help these children cope with the burdens that were placed on them, for merely having been born. There should also be support groups in place for families raising these children to share there hopes, fears, struggles, and triumphs.
For anyone else who finds themselves scared, frustrated, and alone in dealing with this, my advice to you is to educate yourself, set up a support network of friends, family, and medical professionals. Remember that there will be tough times, but also know that rewards are worth the effort…The love Sam has given us has far exceeded the frustrations that we have experienced…I believe I was put on this earth to raise this little boy.
Thanks for reading!
While interesting, the study doesn’t rule out environmental influence since meth mothers would obviously have psychological issues that would affect the baby. Of course, if the babies had meth in their system throughout pregnancy then they would be susceptible to any long-term affects of using meth for 9 months. Long-term effects of meth use on the brain would probably be amplified in babies due to the fact that their brain is just developing so I’m not saying I don’t think that babies would be physically affected but this study doesn’t seem to prove that. Troy’s comment does show that the baby was physically affected since the baby was adopted.