Text Size
Smaller
Bigger
Methamphetamines

Prenatal Meth Exposure Causes Fetal Brain Damage

Comments (1)
posted 11:31 PM EST, Tue March 16, 2010
-- filed under: | |

Using alcohol during pregnancy causes great harm to the developing fetus. Using methamphetamine (meth) during pregnancy – may be even worse.

Researchers at UCLA say that for the first time, they’ve found brain damage in children who were exposed to methamphetamine in the womb. These children show damage that is similar to that found in fetal alcohol exposed children – and in some areas of the brain – the damage is even more severe.

The research team, led by UCLA professor Elizabeth Sowell, used MRI scans to compare the brains of 61 children (the average age was 11) born to mothers who had either:

  • Abused alcohol while pregnant
  • Abused alcohol and methamphetamine while pregnant
  • Not abused either substance while pregnant

MRI scans show that meth exposed children show shrinkages in the same areas of the brain as alcohol exposed children. Meth exposed children, however, show greater shrinkage in the caudate nucleus, an area of the brain that controls learning, memory and motivation. Meth exposed children also show an enlargement in the cingulated cortex, an area of the brain that regulates conflict and self control – something that professor Sowell says could result in developmental delays through adolescence and into adulthood.

Significantly, using I.Q. information and MRI brain scans, the researchers were also able to predict with accuracy which children had been exposed to drugs prenatally. This could help doctors develop accurate diagnoses and treatments for children suffering behavioral or learning deficits who may be lacking complete medical histories (in some adoptions, for example).

Commenting on the significance of the research, Sowell said, "The tragedy here is that all these developmental problems are 100 percent avoidable. The important message is to urge drug abusing women to seek treatment during pregnancy."

The full research results can be read in the March 17th edition of The Journal of Neuroscience.

Email It Send this page Print It Print friendly page Subscribe Subscribe to this topic category
Story Highlights
  • Prenatal: Meth Exposure Causes Brain Damage
Creative Commons License
Copyright Notice
We welcome republishing of our content on condition that you credit Choose Help and the respective authors. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Join Thousands of Readers

who receive our weekly recovery newsletter.

Call Now for
Rehab Options
Insurance Accepted
(Except Medicare)
Helpful Information
Understanding Addiction - What You Need to Know
Understanding Addiction -  What You Need to Know © mediaspin.com
Want to understand addiction? Here are the straight facts from the American Society of Addiction Medicine. Read Article
Addictions April 16, 2012 (5)
Crystal Meth Detox: A How-To Guide
Crystal Meth Detox – What You Need to Know © Stephen Poff
Read this before you start your meth detox and find out: what to expect, whether you need an outpatient or residential detox (or whether you can do it on your own), how to stay safe and how to make it through protracted withdrawals. Read Article
Detox February 26, 2013 (17)
How to Beat Meth Addiction Successfully
Meth Addiction - How to Stop Using Successfully © Torpore
Find out how the physical, psychological and cognitive consequences of long-term meth use make quitting so challenging, and how addiction treatment can help you to compensate and stay clean for long enough to give your body and mind a chance to heal. Read Article
Addictions January 31, 2013 (19)
Like Our Site? Follow Us!

This website is certified by Health On the Net Foundation. Click to verify. This site complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information:
verify here.