Wednesday, June 08, 2005


For the person who found me by Googling “2nd hand smoke pregnant women fetus”: There’s a new study that seems to show a mother’s exposure to tobacco smoke while pregnant not only puts her unborn child at increased risk of asthma, but more surprising (and scary) her grandchildren if that fetus is female. Apparently it affects the dna in the developing eggs of the fetus. As a new mother whose own mother smoked while pregnant with me, this obviously concerns me.

For the dozen or so Google hits I get EVERY. SINGLE. DAY* regarding meth use and pregnancy &/ breastfeeding – if you want to know the effect your meth use will have on your fetus/children, this article is an excellent place to start.

I’m afraid I can’t find any more studies on the actual physical affect than what I’ve already posted on the subject. The actual physical results just won’t be known for a decade or two as meth is such a new toxin. But the indirect affects are becoming very well known (snips from the above article):

“The scars are inflicted in myriad ways: exposure to the drug in the womb, contamination from toxic chemicals used in home-based meth manufacture, explosions and fires, long-term neglect from parents obsessed with their drug habits, physical and sexual abuse. Many of the meth-lab homes are filthy, often strewn with drug paraphernalia and pornography; meth-making chemicals have been found in diaper bags and toy chests. "I've been in homes where you'd find jars of meth oil in the refrigerator, but no milk, no bread for the kids," said Marvin Van Haaften, a former country sheriff who is now Iowa's drug-policy coordinator.

Dr. Rizwan Shah, a pediatrician at Blank Children's Hospital in Des Moines, encountered her first meth-exposed child in 1993 and has studied more than 500 of them since, becoming a respected expert on the phenomenon. She stresses that the prognosis for meth-exposed kids varies widely, and strives to prevent them from being stereotyped. Some suffer serious brain damage and others experience long-lasting developmental problems, while many will grow into adults without serious health consequences, she said.

What's beyond doubt, Shah says, is that pregnant women using meth are harming their babies. "The brain gets hijacked by the drug," she said, describing patterns of overstimulation and disrupted sleep cycles among infants, as well as hyperactivity and attention-deficit disorder among meth-exposed schoolchildren.

One 2-year-old boy Shah treats must be fed through a tube to his stomach because meth exposure left him unable to swallow properly.

But as the above cigarette study shows, you have NO IDEA what effect exposure to toxic substances (whether they be from illegal substances, Rx meds, or environmental toxins) will have on your children. Or on *their* children. Take GetupGrrl for instance, whose mother (like many others) when pregnant took a supposedly “safe” prescription drug called DES to prevent miscarriage. In perhaps one of the biggest ironies of all time, this drug proved to put the daughters of patients given DES at increased risk of a certain rare type of cancer, malformation of reproductive organs, infertility and if not infertile, increased risk of pregnancy complications.

Logic pretty well dictates it’s a very bad idea. Period. Even though the specific results are not yet known. But as I mentioned in the above post, even if the direct physiological affects on your fetus prove to be relatively harmless there are much worse consequences for continuing meth use while pregnant or breastfeeding. Which happen to be the same as the likely consequences of meth use while not pregnant. It’s just a miserable, deadly lifestyle for everyone concerned: you, your fetus and your children.

First, addicts are prone to neglect their own health which puts their fetus at higher risk of malnutrition and birth defects. Second, addicted mothers are at even more increased risk of being abused by their partners than non-addicted pregnant women (who are already at substantial increased risk). Which puts your fetus at risk. And those abusive partners are likely to still be around after the child is born. And will likely abuse those children when they’re not abusing you. And/or expose those children to other criminal elements who will likely abuse those kids as well or subject them to a toxic environment (I mean… why buy meth when you can cook your own! Nevermind meth labs are ticking chemical time bombs just waiting to go off. There’s a reason the hazmat crews are called in every time one is busted…).

By all that’s good in the world, if you find yourself pregnant and are addicted to meth, even if you no longer can find enough love for yourself to check out of that lifestyle for your own sake – I beg you to find enough love for that unborn child to do it for theirs. Here’s someplace to start: Please click on your state-specific link for more information and resources. There is hope.

*I do not exaggerate. Terrifying, isn't it?

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