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USDTL Assisted Research

Maternal Depression and Neurobehavior in Newborns Prenatally Exposed to Methamphetamine

Monica S. Paz, Lynne M. Smith, Linda L. LaGasse, Chris Derauf, Penny Grant, Rizwan Shah, Amelia Arria, Marilyn Huestis, William Haning, Arthur Strauss, Sheri Della Grotta, Jing Liu, Barry M. Laster

First Published: 31 June 2009 DIO:

Los Angeles Biomedical Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center and David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, USA.


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The effects of maternal depression on neonatal neurodevelopment in MA-exposed neonates have not been well characterized.


To determine the neurobehavioral effects of maternal depressive symptoms on neonates exposed and not exposed to methamphetamine (MA) using the NICU Network Neurobehavioral Scale (NNNS).


The purpose of the IDEAL study is to determine the effects of prenatal MA exposure on child outcomes. IDEAL screened 13,808 subjects, 1632 were eligible and consented, and 176 mothers were enrolled. Only biological mothers with custody of their child at the one-month visit (n = 50 MA; n = 86 comparison) had the Addiction Severity Index (ASI) administered. The NNNS was administered to the neonate by an examiner blinded to MA exposure within the first five days of life. General Linear Models tested the effects of maternal depression and prenatal MA exposure on NNNS outcomes, with and without covariates. Significance was accepted at p < .05.


After adjusting for covariates, regardless of exposure status, maternal depressive symptoms were associated with lower handling and arousal scores, elevated physiological stress scores, and an increased incidence of hypotonicity. When adjusting for covariates, MA exposure was associated with lower arousal and higher lethargy scores.


Maternal depressive symptoms are associated with neurodevelopmental patterns of decreased arousal and increased stress. Prenatal MA exposure combined with maternal depression was not associated with any additional neonatal neurodevelopmental differences.

Keywords: Prenatal exposure, Neurodevelopment, Drugs, Depression

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