Meth takes its toll on children |

Meth takes its toll on children

Newborns who are exposed to methamphetamine “are really limp, floppy babies who don’t eat well,” said Dr. Michael Sherman, who has researched the effects of meth on children.

When a pregnant woman takes meth, it constricts her blood flow so badly that babies are born with a myriad of birth defects, he said. Problems include small strokes that produce bleeding in the brain at birth, severe neurological conditions and learning disabilities.

Sherman has seen meth babies born “gnarled up” with defective spines and a condition where a child is born with a hole in the abdomen and the intestines outside of the body. Meth babies can also have heart problems, kidney abnormalities, club feet or be missing parts of an arm or leg, he said.

Most often, the babies are simply irritable and hard to console, some crying constantly.

Sherman and his wife are doing research on meth and babies partly because there is very little data available. Because of that, “we don’t have a good handle on long-term effects.”

The North Dakota Department of Health has a two-page information sheet about methamphetamine and pregnancy, but only this paragraph about long-term effects:

“The effects of methamphetamine use on brain development may last for many years. School-aged children whose mothers used methamphetamine while pregnant are more likely to be hyperactive or to have attention deficit disorders, learning disabilities and unprovoked fits of anger.”

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