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August 2007Vol. 8, No. 7Methamphetamine Use During Pregnancy

A recent study of mothers who used methamphetamine during pregnancy found an increased likelihood of multiple psychosocial risks (poverty, mental illness, family dysfunction, and family violence) that may result in poor parenting and caregiving skills and have a negative effect on developmental outcomes for children. Comparing a sample of 49 mothers who used methamphetamine to 81 mothers who did not, the study found that prenatal methamphetamine use was associated with:

  • Lower maternal perceptions on quality of life
  • Greater likelihood of substance use among family and friends
  • A markedly increased likelihood of developing a substance abuse disorder after giving birth

The study's results may inform the support services offered to new mothers and children of methamphetamine-using parents. As signs of methamphetamine use during pregnancy were predictive of later substance dependence, the authors suggest that practitioners should seek to identify substance use problems early to provide adequate preventive services. Also, the probability of the mother living in an unsafe neighborhood combined with the likelihood of substance use within the mother's family and social support system raises concerns for the child's safety even outside of the mother's care. Services for these mothers should seek to improve parenting skills as well as strengthen social support systems to ensure the safety of the child, according to the authors.

The full study, "Demographic and Psychosocial Characteristics of Mothers Using Methamphetamine During Pregnancy: Preliminary Results of the Infant Development, Environment, and Lifestyle Study (IDEAL)," by Chris Derauf et al., was published in The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, Volume 33, and can be purchased online: