Thousands of pregnant women in the U.S. are abusing meth during pregnancy. In fact, about 25 percent of all pregnant women seeking treatment at federal facilities are methamphetamine users. The result is hundreds of thousands of babies at risk.
Previous studies revealed these children are likely to develop behavioral issues, emotional issues and attention deficit disorders. They are also at a much higher risk of being anxious, aggressive and depressed – even as preschoolers.
But the question is, are they beyond hope? Recent research offers an emphatic no.
A New Hope
A previously conducted study followed meth-exposed newborns for several years and found that home environments can make a big difference in both the emotional and behavioral outcomes of pre-natal meth exposure. Specifically, the researchers noted that, by providing a supportive home environment, the negative effects of meth are greatly reduced.
The latest research offers even brighter outlooks for these children, suggesting that the negative effects are mostly avoidable. Researchers concluded that, even though prenatal exposure has a strong relationship with behavioral and emotional issues, early experiences at home also play a huge part in determining outcomes. Simply put; with the right home life, these kids can make normal progress and flourish.
While it’s certainly encouraging to know that meth-exposed newborns have a chance to grow and mature normally, it’s worth nothing that those benefits seem to hinge on a good family life. The problem, however, is that, unless the mothers get clean and learn some vital sober coping skills, it’s highly unlikely their babies will have nurturing and positive home lives.
- How should parents respond to this study? For children exposed to meth, this data emphasizes the importance of love and support at home. Provide them with nurturing, safe environments to help them reach their highest potential. Parenting classes and other interventions can also help to provide the type of home environment required for healthy development. Meth-exposed newborns aren’t doomed to become negative statistics.
- How should others respond to this study? The principle for a safe and supportive environment is one that can be taken well beyond the home. In fact, experts note it’s much easier to correct meth-related behavior problems if they are noticed and addressed early, rather than when the child is older. Preschool teachers, nurses, doctors and other care providers should be on alert for signs of behavior issues tied to prenatal meth exposure.
Additional Reading: The Damage Done: 6 Long-Term Reminders of Meth Abuse
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