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What are the risks of methamphetamine misuse during pregnancy?

Our knowledge of the effects of methamphetamine misuse during pregnancy is limited because studies of this issue have used small samples and did not account for other possible drug use besides methamphetamine in research samples. But the available research indicates increased rates of premature delivery, placental abruption (separation of the placental lining from the uterus), and various effects on babies prenatally exposed to methamphetamine, including small size, lethargy, and heart and brain abnormalities.18,19

A large NIDA-funded study examined developmental outcomes in children born to mothers who misused methamphetamine. Researchers found that these children are more likely to have neurobehavioral problems, including motor deficits, decreased arousal, increased stress, and subtle but significant attention impairments in these children, with a higher likelihood of them going on to have behavioral issues in school related to difficulties with self-control and executive function.20,21,22,23,24,25 One study suggested that some of the neonatal issues with stress and arousal improve by 1-2 months of age.26

This page was last updated April 2019

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NIDA. (2019, April 1). Methamphetamine. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/methamphetamine

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​Research Reports

This series of reports simplifies the science of research findings for the educated lay public, legislators, educational groups, and practitioners. The series reports on research findings of national interest.

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