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Methamphetamine is an illicit drug that boosts dopamine levels in the brain. This extra dopamine leads to sensations of pleasure. Meth can lead to adverse health impacts for the user such as high blood pressure, insomnia and heart damage. This drug is very addictive and women who get pregnant while using meth and continue to use it through pregnancy, it can affect the growth and development of the baby. The drug readily crosses the placenta getting to the child and affecting it directly. The child's exposure to this drug can have long-term impacts on the child. Here is a look at the effects of meth on children.
Learning disabilities is a common effect of meth on children. Children who are born with a meth addiction suffer various learning disorders. These children perform poorly in class and they tend to have behavioral problems as they grow. Time frame for these learning disabilities can differ, but in most cases it is a long-term issue. The reason behind this poor performance is the fact that meth use affects brain development of the baby. Prenatal exposure to meth causes structural changes in the brain of the baby. Meth-exposed children have a problem in the part of the brain that is associated with learning, memory, motor control and motivation.
Children who are exposed to meth also have intestinal problems. A child who gets exposed to meth before birth might develop a condition in which the intestines protrude through the abdominal wall. This condition is known as gastroschisis. The child will have issues with digestion and to treat this condition, a surgical procedure is required, in which the hole found in the abdominal wall is repaired. These children might also suffer from other intestinal problems.
Sleep disturbances are also common among children who are exposed to meth. Meth can distress the neurotransmitters, which transport signals from one neuron to another in the brain. Children with a meth addiction might have issues with sleeping due to the effect on neurotransmitters. This problem might last for up to six months.
Meth also makes children very irritable. Excessive crying and irritability are common symptoms experienced by infants and newborns who are exposed to meth. These babies scare easily and they have a heartbreaking, piercing cry that appears to come out of nowhere, and can even happen when the baby is in deep sleep. Caretaking becomes challenging because usual methods of providing comfort often fail. In most cases, this behavior starts at birth and goes on through the child's first birthday. Many meth addicted children develop irritability symptoms during their preschool or toddler years. These usually manifest as aggressive behavior or temper tantrums.
Another effect of meth on children is that it causes sensory integration problems. Children who are exposed to meth during their mother's pregnancy regularly experience sensory integration issues. These children respond negatively to various forms of affection including hugging, touching or cuddling. These sensory integration problems can include a dislike for certain clothing fabrics, food textures and even new sensations and environments. When a child with intense sensory integration problems enters school, these challenges can grow into serious social maladjustment problems.
Skeletal and spinal abnormalities are also effects of meth on children. Some babies who are exposed to meth might have long-term developmental and skeletal abnormalities. These babies might be born with club foot, where the foot has a twisted shape, or spina bifida. These effects might require surgical intervention, but since some abnormalities might be irreparable, these might be long-term harmful effects of meth addiction. Generally, children who are exposed to meth are likely to have birth defects, which include heart defects, cleft palates and limb-reduction deformities, in which a child has missing fingers and toes.
Meth also leads to delayed speech in children. Some meth-exposed children have speech delays due to changes and damage in the brain. The child's speech might not be clear or in some cases, the child might not have the right size language for his age. Such cases might need speech therapy to correct and this therapy might take some years to complete. There are some speech delays that might be long-term. Meth use might make children to have a small head and weigh less than the expected. Children who are born with low weight commonly suffer from complications, which include hypothermia, respiratory distress, feeding problems and jaundice.
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