Maternal Methamphetamine use in Pregnancy and Long-Term Neurodevelopmental and Behavioral Deficits in Children
J Popul Ther Clin Pharmacol Vol 21(2):e185-e196; May 20, 2014
Original Research
Jessie van Dyk, Veruschka Ramanjam, Paige Church, Gideon Koren, Kirsten Donald

To describe neurodevelopmental and/or behavioral findings among a cohort of South African children exposed to maternal methamphetamine (MA) use during pregnancy.

Developmental assessments with the Griffiths Mental Developmental Scales (GMDS) were completed on a pilot cohort of 15 toddlers aged 2-4 years with a known history of maternal MA use during pregnancy. These were compared to a matched cohort of 21 toddlers without a history of maternal MA use. Each child underwent formal auditory testing and vision screen. The Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) was completed by a parent or caregiver. Cohorts were matched for age, gestational age at birth, socio-economic status and geographic distribution.

Baseline characteristics were similar between the two groups. Most significant areas of poorer performance on GMDS in the Methamphetamine-exposed cohort was noted on the Personal-Social Ability Subscale (p<0.0001) and on the Hand and Eye Co-ordination Subscale (p=0.0002), while lower scores were also obtained on General Quotients (p=0.022). There were also significant concerns regarding aggressive behavior and attention deficit/hyperactivity on the CBCL for the exposed group, although this did not reach statistical significance.

Among children exposed to maternal MA use during pregnancy, specific developmental and behavioral deficits were increased when compared to controls. This correlates well with available literature. Larger sample sizes would help further support these findings and more definitively distinguish behavioral deficits.

Key Words: Prenatal exposure, methamphetamine, neurodevelopment, behavior

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