A new study shows that toddlers who were exposed to prenatal meth use have abnormal stress responses. According to Yahoo News, these kids showed a lack of hormonal stress responses to stressful situations, but only when they also lived in unstable home environments. Researchers said the implications include higher rates of depression, anxiety, and ADD/ADHD.
The researchers observed 123 kids whose mothers had used meth during pregnancy. Researchers measured the toddler’s cortisol (stress hormone) levels by creating a situation that causes short-term stress–a mom leaving the room. Children who lived in unstable, stressful homes showed a dulled cortisol response—a response linked in other studies to substance abuse and delinquency. Children who did not live in stressful homes didn’t show low cortisol levels.
“The postnatal environment is hugely important,” said study researcher Barry Lester, director of the Brown Center for Children at Risk of the Women and Infants Hospital of Rhode Island. Lester stressed that kids can overcome the damage of prenatal meth use with early support and security.
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