(TERRE HAUTE) - A new study into the effects of methamphetamine on children whose mothers used the drug during pregnancy finds such children often face higher risks of behavior problems than others.
Those behavior differences included anxiety, depression, moodiness, and attention deficit/ hyperactivity disorder, according to study published in the journal Pediatrics on Monday.
The study included 330 children in the Midwest and West who were tracked from ages three through five, and it compared high-risk children whose mothers had used meth during pregnancy with high-risk children whose mothers had not used the drug while pregnant.
The report found that the behavior differences occurred as early as 3 years of age.
Those who work with expectant mothers and their babies say chemicals ingested by pregnant mothers can affect the health of their fetus.
"Whatever the mother ingests, the fetus and eventually the newborn does get," said JoAnne Goldbort, director of maternal and child services at Union Hospital in Terre Haute. "When a mom is smoking ... or doing any kind of drugs, it does get into her bloodstream and then it goes directly to the fetus."
While the new study addresses the long-term impact of meth use during pregnancy, Goldbort said meth can also have short-term impacts, including pre-term birth and withdrawals in infants.
"We may have a baby that's very, very inconsolable ... very difficult to settle down after a few days after it's born ... a lot of high-pitched crying," Goldbort said.
Goldbort said it is important that mothers who are using non-prescribed drugs tell their doctors so their babies can be effectively treated.
Meanwhile, the researchers behind the newly-released study said more research is needed on the effects of meth used during pregnancy.
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