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Study: Babies exposed to meth more likely to have problems thinking, understanding

by Jaclyn Cosgrove Published: March 19, 2014
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Children exposed to meth before birth are more likely to have problems thinking, understanding and learning, according to a recently published study.

Methamphetamine, meth for short, is a very addictive stimulant drug and is a powder that can be made into a pill or a crystal.

Over the past several years, Oklahoma has had some of the highest rates of meth abuse in the nation, for the drug has long been a problem in our state. And that drug problem has affected some of the state’s smallest residents.

According to the study, the children exposed to meth were almost three times more likely to have cognitive problems:

In the only long-term, National Institutes of Health-funded study of prenatal methamphetamine exposure and child outcome, researchers found youngsters exposed to the potent illegal drug before birth had increased cognitive problems at age 7.5 years, highlighting the need for early intervention to improve academic outcomes and reduce the potential for negative behaviors, according to the study published online by The Journal of Pediatrics.

The researchers studied 151 children exposed to methamphetamine before birth and 147 who were not exposed to the drug. They found the children with prenatal methamphetamine exposure were 2.8 times more likely to have cognitive problem scores than children who were not exposed to the drug in a test often used for measuring cognitive skills, the Connors’ Parents Rating Scale.

“These problems include learning slower than their classmates, having difficulty organizing their work and completing tasks and struggling to stay focused on their work,” said Dr. Lynne M. Smith, a lead researcher at the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute and corresponding author of the study. “All of these difficulties can lead to educational deficits for these children and potentially negative behavior as they find they cannot keep up with their classmates.”


by Jaclyn Cosgrove
Medical and Health Reporter
Jaclyn Cosgrove writes about health, public policy and medicine in Oklahoma, among other topics. She is an Oklahoma State University graduate. Jaclyn grew up in the southeast region of the state and enjoys writing about rural Oklahoma. She is...
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