National Alliance For Drug Endangered Children

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Meth Exposure in Children

We’ve all seen upsetting before and after photos of adults who have become addicted to meth. The physical changes that take place in just a few months are staggering. But what happens when children are repeatedly exposed to methamphetamine in their environment?

Fetuses in the womb can be harmed my meth use in a number of ways. Generally, mothers who are addicted to meth are less likely to get the prenatal care they need. This can result in nutritional neglect and an increased chance of preterm birth. Meth use during pregnancy has also been linked to increased transmission of HIV to children, as well as an increase in diseases such as syphilis and hepatitis.

Once the baby is born, the symptoms of meth exposure become evident:

Low birth weight
Birth defects
Tremors in the arms and/or legs
Excessive crying or irritability
Muscle weakness
Risk of stroke or seizures
Poor regulation of sleep/wake cycle and feeding
Abnormal infant behavior

Withdrawal symptoms can last for months, and include:

Difficulty with transitions
Difficulty with changes in the environment
Discomfort with being touched (extreme sensitivity) and dealing with normal body sensations
Neurological impairment
Difficulty being comforted