Hair Samples Show Babies Can Be Exposed To 'Crystal Meth' While In The WombMethamphetamine, or crystal meth is the fastest growing drug in North America. It is cheap, potent and incredibly addictive. It is to this decade what crack was to the 80s and heroin to the 90s.
A study in the British Medical Journal has shown conclusively that crystal meth can cross the placenta when pregnant mothers use the drug.
Babies can be exposed to methamphetamine or
"crystal meth" while in the womb, reveals an analysis of hair samples,
published ahead of print in the Fetal and Neonatal Edition of Archives
of Disease in Childhood
The authors carried out hair sample analysis on
more than 8,000 people, totalling more than 34,000 test results between
1997 and 2005.
In all, 396 samples tested positive for crystal
meth, accounting for 8% of the total during this period. This number
included 11 mother and baby pairs.
All but 14 of the samples
testing positive for crystal meth had been sent for analysis in 2005.
The first positive cases dated from 2003.
Wide ranging levels
of the drug were found in both the mothers' and the newborns' hair
samples. But the levels matched, indicating that the drug is able to
cross the placenta directly to the developing fetus, say the authors.
Only one newborn had no evidence of the drug in its hair. Fetal hair starts to grow at about 20 weeks.
authors say that the precise effects of crystal meth on a fetus are not
fully known, but the evidence to date points to restricted fetal growth
and developmental problems.
Crystal meth users were also
significantly more likely to use other drugs, the results showed. Most
(85%) of the 396 samples positive for crystal meth also tested positive
for at least one other illegal drug, predominantly cocaine. .
abuse increases complications of pregnancy and triples the likelihood
of serious medical problems among the babies born, say the authors.