Brain Scans Show Danger of Meth Exposure During Pregnancy

A new study suggests that the brain damage suffered by children whose mothers used metamphetamine during pregnancy may be even worse than the effects that alcohol has on a fetus.

Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, found that some of the brain regions of meth-exposed children were even smaller than in alcohol-exposed children. One such region is the caudate nucleus, which plays a role in learning, memory, motor control, and motivation.

“Our findings stress the importance of drug abuse treatment for pregnant women,” said research team leader Elizabeth Sowell.

According to Sowell and her colleagues, being able to identify which brain structures are affected in meth-exposed children may help predict the specific types of leaning and behavioral problems that will afflict these children.

 Source:  The Journal of Neuroscience. March 17 2011

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