Nav: Home

New study holds hope for improving outcomes for children exposed to methamphetamine

January 21, 2016

LOS ANGELES - Despite continuing reports that methamphetamine abuse during pregnancy can lead to behavioral and emotional problems in children, pregnant women continue to abuse the illicit drug. Nearly one-fourth of pregnant women seeking treatment at federal facilities were methamphetamine users.

Now a new study, scheduled for publication in The Journal of Pediatrics, holds hope for improving outcomes for children exposed to the methamphetamine in the womb. The study found that while prenatal methamphetamine exposure can lead to targeted behavioral issues, a supportive home environment significantly decreases the severity and risk of these issues.

"In the first study of its kind, we followed children, who experienced prenatal methamphetamine exposure, up to the age of 7.5 years and found that adversities, such as poverty and continued drug abuse by a parent, contributed to behavioral and emotional control issues," said Lynne M. Smith, MD, an LA BioMed lead researcher and corresponding author of the study. "While additional study is needed, these findings indicate that providing a supportive home life for children with prenatal methamphetamine exposure would reduce their behavioral and emotional control issues."

The study is a follow-up to the Infant Development, Environment and Lifestyle (IDEAL) study, which is a prospective, multi-center, longitudinal study of children exposed to methamphetamine in the womb. It is designed to address some of the limitations of earlier studies.

The IDEAL study enrolled children from Los Angeles; Des Moines, IA; Tulsa, OK, and Honolulu, HI, who had been exposed to methamphetamine in utero. Previous reports from the IDEAL study documented the outcomes up to age 5 and found emotional issues and attention deficit hyperactivity disorders in the children with prenatal methamphetamine exposure.

The new study surveyed 290 children enrolled in IDEAL and found a strong relation between prenatal methamphetamine exposure and rule-breaking and aggressive behavior. It also found a strong relation between adversities in the home and rule-breaking and aggressive behavior. Among the adverse conditions considered were maternal substance abuse, extreme poverty, changes in the primary caregiver, sexual abuse of the caregiver and maternal depression.

The researchers concluded that while prenatal methamphetamine exposure is strongly related to behavioral and emotional control issues, early adversities may be a strong determinant of behavioral outcomes. With the current study only following children up to age 7.5 years, the researchers said longer term studies will be needed for a more complete understanding of the developmental, emotional and social outcomes for children with prenatal methamphetamine exposure.
Also participating in the study were: Nwando Eze, MD, MPH, LA BioMed; Linda L. LaGasse, PhD, Sheri A. Della Grotta, MPH, Barry M. Lester, PhD, and Lynne M. Dansereau, MSPH, Pediatrics Division, Brown Center for the Study of Children at Risk, Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Women and Infants Hospital, Providence, RI; Chris Derauf, MD, and Charles Neal, MD, PhD, from the John A. Burns School of Medicine, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, HI; Elana Newman, PhD, Department of Psychology, The University of Tulsa, Tulsa, OK; Amelia Arria, PhD, Center for Substance Abuse Research, University of Maryland, College Park, MD, and Marilyn A. Huestis, PhD, Section on Chemistry and Drug Metabolism, National Institute on Drug Abuse, Bethesda, MD.

Funding provided by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Grant No. R01DA014918; the National Institutes of Health/National Center for Advancing Translational Science at the University of California, Los Angeles (CTSI), Grant No. UL1TR000124, and the National Center for Research Resources, Grant No. U54RR026136.

About LA BioMed

Founded in 1952, LA BioMed is one of the country's leading nonprofit independent biomedical research institutes. It has approximately 100 principal researchers conducting studies into improved diagnostics and treatments for cancer, inherited diseases, infectious diseases, illnesses caused by environmental factors and more. It also educates young scientists and provides community services, including prenatal counseling and childhood nutrition programs. LA BioMed is academically affiliated with the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and located on the campus of Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. For more information, please visit

LA BioMed

Related Methamphetamine Articles:

Oxytocin reduces cravings for methamphetamine
Many people have suggested that addiction hijacks the body's natural drives in the service of compulsive drug use.
Stopping drug abuse can reverse related heart damage
Quitting methamphetamine use can reverse the damage the drug causes to the heart and improve heart function in abusers when combined with appropriate medical treatment, potentially preventing future drug-related cases of heart failure or other worse outcomes, according to a study published today in JACC: Heart Failure.
Impulsive personality linked to greater risk for early onset of meth use
Methamphetamine users who described themselves as impulsive were more likely to have started taking the drug at an earlier age, a study of more than 150 users showed.
Could exercise help meth addicts recover? Circadian rhythms are key, study finds
Exercise coupled with a regimen of methamphetamine could help addicts get clean, according to a pre-clinical study published today in The FASEB Journal.
Methamphetamine and skin wounds: NYIT researcher wins NIH grant to study immune response
NYIT researcher Luis Martinez, Ph.D. has won a $431,700 National Institutes of Health grant to investigate, in mice, methamphetamine's effects on the underlying biological mechanisms that cause inflammation and impair wound healing.
More Methamphetamine News and Methamphetamine Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Do animals grieve? Do they have language or consciousness? For a long time, scientists resisted the urge to look for human qualities in animals. This hour, TED speakers explore how that is changing. Guests include biological anthropologist Barbara King, dolphin researcher Denise Herzing, primatologist Frans de Waal, and ecologist Carl Safina.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#534 Bacteria are Coming for Your OJ
What makes breakfast, breakfast? Well, according to every movie and TV show we've ever seen, a big glass of orange juice is basically required. But our morning grapefruit might be in danger. Why? Citrus greening, a bacteria carried by a bug, has infected 90% of the citrus groves in Florida. It's coming for your OJ. We'll talk with University of Maryland plant virologist Anne Simon about ways to stop the citrus killer, and with science writer and journalist Maryn McKenna about why throwing antibiotics at the problem is probably not the solution. Related links: A Review of the Citrus Greening...