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Demographic and Psychosocial Characteristics of Mothers Using Methamphetamine During Pregnancy: Preliminary Results of the Infant development, Environment, and Lifestyle Study (IDEAL)

Chris Derauf Linda L LaGasseLynne M SmithPenny GrantRizwan ShahAmelia ArriaMarilyn HuestisWilliam HaningArthur StraussSheri Della GrottaJing LiuBarry M Lester

First Published: 2007 DIO: 10.1080/00952990601175029

Department of Pediatrics, John A. Burns School of Medicine, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, Hawaii 96826, USA. 


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This study describes the psychological characteristics and caretaking environments of 131 women enrolled in the first longitudinal study of prenatal methamphetamine (MA) exposure and child development. Prenatal MA use was associated with lower maternal perceptions on quality of life, greater likelihood of substance use among family and friends, increased risk for ongoing legal difficulties, and a markedly increased likelihood of developing a substance abuse disorder. Our preliminary findings suggest that MA using women are more likely to have multiple, intertwined psychosocial risks that may result in maladaptive parenting and caregiving. These factors may impact the developmental outcomes of affected children.


Despite large increases in the overall abuse of methamphetamine (MA) in recent years and indications that its use among pregnant women nationally may also be increasing, little has been reported on the psychosocial characteristics of women who use MA during pregnancy. Maternal substance abuse is associated with multiple psychosocial risks that may adversely affect child development, including poverty, mental illness, family dysfunction, and family violence. Furthermore, these characteristics may be associated with home and neighborhood environments that compound rather than mitigate the effects of adverse parenting.

The purpose of this study was to describe the psychological characteristics and caretaking environments of women who used MA during pregnancy and are enrolled in the multicenter, longitudinal IDEAL Study of prenatal MA exposure and child development.


The primary goal of the IDEAL study is to investigate developmental outcomes associated with prenatal MA exposure. The study design has been previously described. This article reports on the psychosocial characteristics of biological mothers enrolled in the IDEAL study who were interviewed at the 1-month visit. Four clinical sites known to have MA problems were chosen to participate in the IDEAL project, including Los Angeles, CA; Des Moines, IA; Tulsa, OK; and Honolulu, HI. The study was approved by the Institutional Review Board at each site. A National Institute on Drug Abuse Certificate of Confidentiality was obtained for the project that assured confidentiality of information regarding the subjects’ drug use, superseding mandatory reporting of illegal substance use.

Keywords: maternal behavior, methamphetamine, parenting, substance abuse

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