If a mother uses meth during pregnancy, infants can experience fetal meth exposure, meaning that they may be born with a variety of issues other babies would not be. There are many dangers associated with fetal meth exposure, including meth-addicted newborns, withdrawal symptoms for babies, and even birth defects or long-term damage. However, we can’t forget about the mother, as there are also dangerous consequences for her, as well. To learn more about the dangers of using meth during pregnancy, keep reading. If you or a loved one struggles with meth addiction and are pregnant, it’s time to get the help you need.
Concerned That You Might Be Addicted?
Click here to take our Methamphetamine Addiction Quiz and find out if you’re at risk!
Fetal Meth Exposure: Can Babies Be Addicted to Meth?
Unfortunately, drug addiction in a mother can sometimes transfer to the baby. When a mother uses meth during her pregnancy, the baby can become dependent on it as well. This is because the mother provides all nutrients to the baby. In these cases, those nutrients can be tainted with methamphetamine when “delivered” to the baby. During the pregnancy, the baby can become dependent on meth, causing all sorts of problems down the road. In some cases, babies are born with a meth addiction. Of course, they’re not actively seeking out meth, but they’ll experience severe withdrawal symptoms and other dangerous side effects because of it.
What Happens to the Children of Meth Addicts?
It can be saddening to think about the children of meth addicts and how their parent’s decisions have affected their lives in the present and future. However, it’s important to remember that their parent likely didn’t choose to harm their child, but was stuck instead in an unfortunate situation. Unfortunately, that doesn’t change the damage that their decision can cause. Here are a few of the many dangers of using meth while pregnant and how they can affect children in both the short and long term.
Methamphetamines can cause birth defects in newborn babies, such as DNA damage, mental and physical abnormalities, and heart defects. Unfortunately, about 50% of babies born to mothers who used meth during pregnancy are also premature, leading to other consequences and issues. Not only that, but mortality rates are also higher for babies born to meth-addicted mothers, and they can die of premature birth, miscarriage, or fetal stroke. If you’re struggling with meth addiction, it’s important to think about these consequences before deciding to have children or deciding to keep a child that you may not have planned for.
Because babies can be born addicted to meth, they’ll begin to experience withdrawals when they lose access to their source (their mom). Meth withdrawal isn’t typically dangerous in adults, it can be very stressful for babies during their first few days. They may have trouble learning how to eat or other important first milestones within the first few days or weeks. Mothers will need to be extremely patient with their babies during this time, as they can be extremely fussy. It may be harder for them to sleep or eat, meaning they’ll pretty much always be upset.
However, these effects don’t only affect the first few days of birth, they can last a long time and even continue into adolescence or adulthood. Many meth-addicted babies are known to experience mental health issues, learning disabilities, and behavioral issues while growing up. Because meth interacts with the brain’s neurotransmitters, it can cause problems that are permanent or require long-term treatment.
Other long-term effects also include poor motor skills and coordination problems, as well as hyperactivity or anger issues. Children born to meth-addicted mothers require more patience and treatment in their early stages in order to grow up without having to experience too much trauma. As a parent, it’s your responsibility to ensure that your child has access to this care whenever necessary possible.
How Meth Can Affect the Mother and Motherhood
Meth doesn’t just affect the children post-birth, it can also greatly affect the mother during their pregnancy. Because meth addicts tend to have a lower body mass index, this alone can cause complications such as an increased risk of miscarriage. Overall, meth-addicted mothers experience a riskier pregnancy than other, non-drug-using mothers. Complications for mothers include:
- High blood pressure, leading to kidney damage, stroke, or heart problems
- Eclampsia, which can cause maternal death. The risk of eclampsia increases for those on meth and occurs when high blood pressure is uncontrolled, impacting the liver, kidneys, and brain and ultimately leading to death
- Placenta detachment can occur, causing hemorrhaging that leads to death
- Premature delivery or required C-section
Because of these extra risks, mothers addicted to meth should work with their doctors to lessen the risk wherever they can. Once a mother finds out she’s pregnant, she should work as hard as she can to stop using, as that’s the best way to reduce the risk of complications for both the mother and the baby. There are specific programs out there built for pregnant moms, allowing them to detox safely and work on healthy coping mechanisms, trigger avoidance, and more. These programs focus on keeping the mother healthy and sober throughout her pregnancy to avoid these complications.
Finding Treatment for Pregnant Moms
Fetal meth exposure is no joke and can be severely damaging and life-threatening for both the mother and baby. For that reason, it’s important to seek treatment as soon as possible once you find out that you’re pregnant. The faster you’re able to detox during your pregnancy, the lesser the risk will be for both you and your child.
Thankfully, here at Asheville Recovery Center, we offer a variety of different programs to help meth addicts get clean, even pregnant ones! We can also help you get sober if you’re looking to become pregnant safely. Even if you aren’t pregnant or looking to get pregnant, getting sober is always the best option. To learn more about the treatment programs we offer and how we can help you get and stay sober to have a healthy pregnancy, call us today.