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Methamphetamine Use Triples Among Pregnant Rehab Patients
Date:5/21/2009

A quarter of those seeking treatment are addicted to the drug, study shows

THURSDAY, May 21 (HealthDay News) -- More pregnant women in drug treatment programs are there due to methamphetamine use than any other drug, new research shows.

The number of expectant mothers seeking treatment for methamphetamine abuse tripled from 1994 to 2006. In 1994, methamphetamine use accounted for 8 percent of all admissions for pregnant women, but by 2006 that number was 24 percent, the researchers report.

"Methamphetamine is the primary drug that compels treatment admission. It's the most common drug, including alcohol," said study author Dr. Mishka Terplan, an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Chicago Medical Center.

Results of the study are published in the June issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Methamphetamine is a stimulant that's highly addictive. It can be taken orally, snorted, injected or smoked, according to the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Treatments aimed at changing behaviors tend to be the most effective for helping people beat a methamphetamine addiction, according to NIDA.

About 731,000 Americans over age 12 are estimated to currently use methamphetamine, according to NIDA. In 2006, over 400,000 women of reproductive age reported using methamphetamine, according to background information in the study.

It's not clear what effects methamphetamine use has on fetal development, or if there are any long-term effects on children exposed in utero. One study, according to Terplan, found that babies born to mothers using methamphetamine may be slightly smaller. However, a recent study published in Neurology suggests that methamphetamine exposure may cause microscopic structural changes in children's brains. What isn't known from this study is what the long-term impact of such changes might be, if there is any impact
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