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Mom's Meth Use Passes Drug to Fetus

Hair sampling shows equal exposure in mother, infant

THURSDAY, Nov. 2, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Sampling babies' hair, scientists confirmed that infants are exposed to "crystal meth" (methamphetamine) in the womb if their mothers use the drug.

Canadian researchers analyzed hair samples from more than 8,000 people and found that 396 samples tested positive for crystal meth, including 11 mother-and-baby pairs.

Levels of the drug in individual mother/infant pairs matched, which indicates that the drug is able to cross the placenta directly to a developing fetus, said the team from the University of Toronto. Fetal hair starts to grow at about 20 weeks.

The findings are published in the Fetal and Neonatal edition of the Archives of Disease in Childhood.

The precise effects of crystal meth on a fetus aren't fully known, but evidence to date suggests the drug may restrict fetal growth and cause developmental problems.

It is known that any type of drug abuse by a woman during pregnancy increases the risk of pregnancy complications and triples the likelihood of serious medical problems in their babies, the study authors said.

Their analysis of hair samples also revealed that crystal meth users are much more likely to use other drugs. The study found that 85 percent of the 396 samples that tested positive for crystal meth also tested positive for at least one other illegal drug, predominately cocaine.

More information

The Partnership for a Drug-Free America has more about crystal meth.

SOURCE: Archives of Disease in Childhood, news release, Oct. 31, 2006
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