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USDTL Assisted Research

Methamphetamine and Other Substance use During Pregnancy: Preliminary Estimates from the Infant Development, Environment, and Lifestyle (IDEAL) Study

Amelia M ArriaChris DeraufLinda L LagassePenny GrantRizwan ShahLynne SmithWilliam HaningMarilyn HuestisArthur StraussSheri Della GrottaJing LiuBarry Lester

First Published: 10 March 2006       DOI: 10.1007/s10995-005-0052-0


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Objectives: Methamphetamine use is a continuing problem in several regions of the United States and yet few studies have focused on prenatal methamphetamine exposure. The purpose of this study was to estimate the prevalence and correlates of alcohol, tobacco, and other substance use-including methamphetamine-during pregnancy.

Methods: The sample consisted of the first 1632 eligible mothers who consented to participate in a large-scale multisite study focused on prenatal methamphetamine exposure. This unselected screening sample included both users and nonusers of alcohol, tobacco, methamphetamine, and other drugs. Substance use was determined by maternal self-report and/or GC/MS confirmation of a positive meconium screen.

Results: Overall, 5.2% of women used methamphetamine at some point during their pregnancy. One quarter of the sample smoked tobacco, 22.8% drank alcohol, 6.0% used marijuana, and 1.3% used barbiturates prenatally. Less than 1% of the sample used heroin, benzodiazepines, and hallucinogens. Multivariate modeling results showed that tobacco smokers and illicit drug users were more likely to be single and less educated, have attended less than 11 prenatal visits, and utilize public financial assistance.

Conclusions: This is the first large-scale investigation to report the prevalence of methamphetamine use during pregnancy in areas of the United States where methamphetamine is a notable concern. Follow-up research is ongoing to investigate the outcomes associated with prenatal methamphetamine exposure. Given that this research extends and confirms previous findings showing that high-risk groups of pregnant women can be identified on the basis of basic demographic characteristics, targeted interventions are greatly needed to reduce serious adverse outcomes associated with prenatal alcohol and tobacco use. 

Keywords: methamphetamine, pregnancy, alcohol, drug use, prenatal care, epidemiology

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