MONDAY, March 19 (HealthDay News) -- Children exposed to methamphetamine while in the womb face a higher risk of developing behavior problems, a new study suggests.
These problems can include depression, anxiousness and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), the researchers report.
"This is the only study on methamphetamine that looked at children at birth and followed them into childhood," said study author Linda LaGasse, a clinical assistant professor of pediatrics at Brown University School of Medicine.
Mothers' prenatal use of methamphetamine, "over and above other bad things that cause trouble with children, has an effect on behavior," LaGasse said.
The stimulant drug is thought to be even more potent than cocaine because it lasts longer in the body, she explained. "Methamphetamine goes right into the placenta and affects the brain," she said.
The report appears online March 19 and in the April issue of Pediatrics.
Dr. James C. Garbutt, professor and medical director of the Alcohol & Substance Abuse Program at the University of North Carolina, said that "these data suggest that exposure to methamphetamine in utero might lead to behavioral problems in children, and this is something that needs to be noted and considered for future research."
This information is another reason for women, and men, to avoid methamphetamine, or, if addicted, to become sober, Garbutt said.
"Of course there are many other reasons not to use methamphetamine including its serious consequences for physical and mental health and its overall destructive power for individuals and their families," he added.
LaGasse's team tested 166 children of mothers who used methamphetamine during pregnancy, comparing them to 164 similar children who had not been exposed to the drug.
To determine that results were truly related to methamphetamine use a
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