Prenatal methamphetamine use and neonatal neurobehavioral outcome


Background: Methamphetamine (MA) use among pregnant women is an increasing problem in the United States. How prenatal MA exposure affects neonatal neurobehavior is unknown. Objective: To examine the neurobehavioral effects of prenatal MA exposure. Design: The Infant Development, Environment and Lifestyle (IDEAL) study screened 13,808 subjects and 1632 were eligible and consented. 166 (n = 74 exposed) were enrolled in a longitudinal follow-up. Exposure was determined by meconium assay and self-report with alcohol, marijuana, and tobacco present in both groups. The NICU Network Neurobehavioral Scale (NNNS) was administered within the first 5 days of life. Analyses conducted on NNNS summary scores included exposure group effects, heavy MA use effects, association with frequency of use by trimester, and dose-response relationships with amphetamine metabolites. Results: After adjusting for covariates, exposure to MA was associated with increased physiological stress. Heavy MA use was related to lower arousal, more lethargy, and increased physiological stress. First trimester MA use was related to elevated stress abstinence. Third trimester use was related to poorer quality of movement. Higher level of amphetamine metabolites in meconium was associated with increased CNS stress. Conclusions: Prenatal MA exposure was associated with neurobehavioral patterns of decreased arousal, increased stress, and poor quality of movement. The dose-response relationships may represent neurotoxic effects from MA. © 2007 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Document Type





Drug, Meconium, Neurodevelopment, Prenatal exposure

Publication Date


Journal Title

Neurotoxicology and Teratology