‘Ice’ use tied to low weight in newborns
The research on pregnancy includes 158 Oahu families
Infants exposed to crystal methamphetamine during pregnancy are 3.5 times more likely to be small for their gestational age, John A. Burns School of Medicine researchers have reported.
This is among findings of a large-scale investigation of prenatal effects of "ice" use by pregnant women.
The Infant Development, Environment and Lifestyle study involves research on effects of prenatal methamphetamine exposure on health and development of children up to 3 years old.
The study is taking place in Tulsa, Okla.; Des Moines, Iowa; and Los Angeles, as well as Oahu. More than 400 families were enrolled, including 158 on Oahu.
Dr. Chris Derauf, associate professor of pediatrics and principal investigator of the Hawaii IDEAL program, said children born small for their gestational age have increased chances of poorer health outcomes later in life, such as development of learning problems and Type 2 diabetes.
He said prenatal tobacco exposure and lower maternal weight gain during pregnancy are other risk factors identified for babies born small for their gestational age (below the 10th percentile weight for their age at delivery).
Gestational age is measured beginning with the first day of a mother's last menstrual cycle.
Discussing the long-term study at a conference in June, Derauf said, "There is reason to be concerned."
He said early findings showed a sharp increase in low-birth-weight babies born to women using methamphetamine, which can result in developmental problems.
But while prenatal methamphetamine exposure and other risk factors could increase the chance for problems later in life, Derauf said it is important for the public to understand this can be changed.
He said considerable research indicates a loving, nurturing home environment, especially during a child's early years, can make a difference.
Derauf will be part of a medical team providing care in a pilot health clinic planned in Kaimuki for pregnant women who use ice and other drugs. Prenatal care, substance abuse treatment and other services will be provided.
The IDEAL study is in the final year of National Institutes of Health funding.