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Meth-Using Moms Cause Behavior Issues in Kids

Children as old as five whose mothers used meth while pregnant exhibit a range of behavioral problems, reveals a new study.

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Meth moms are likelier to have unhappy
kids. Thinkstock

By Valerie Tejeda

03/19/12

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Children whose mothers used methamphetamine during pregnancy are at higher risk of behavioral problems, according to new research. A study published in Pediatrics journal finds “worrisome” behavioral differences—like anxiety, depression and moodiness—in the offspring of meth-using moms. Brown University researchers built on an earlier study of 330 children from regions where meth use is prominent—such as the Midwest and West—that were tracked between the ages of three and five. More mothers who gave birth in Los Angeles, Honolulu, Des Moines and Tulsa, Oklahoma were then recruited; they were asked about their meth use during pregnancy, and their newborns were drug tested. By the age of three, meth users’ children scored slightly higher for depression, moodiness and anxiety. This was still the case by the time the kids turned five; the older children were also more likely to exhibit aggression, and issues similar to ADHD. “The research is among ‘groundbreaking’ studies examining effects of substance abuse during pregnancy,” says Joseph Frascella, head of the behavioral division at the National Institute on Drug Abuse. “But because the study is a first, the results should be viewed cautiously and need to be repeated.” Over half of the mothers who used meth during pregnancy also used it after their child was born.

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