Greater fetal brain damage with methamphetamine than with alcohol

March 18, 3:28 PM
Hartford Women’s Health Examiner
Elizabeth Stannard Gromisch

Expecting mothers have been warned about the dangers of drinking while pregnant. The Mayo Clinic states that “as many as 40,000 babies are born with some type of alcohol-related damage each year in the United States.” Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) can cause serious problems in an unborn child, such as brain damage, which can lead to developmental delays and learning disorders. The child can also suffer from heart defects, poor coordination, slow physical growth, and deformities of her joints, limbs, and fingers.

HealthDay News reports that while drinking during a pregnancy can cause severe damage to the fetus, methamphetamine use during pregnancy has even more effects. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) states that methamphetamine is a central nervous system stimulant and is classified as a Schedule II drug. Methamphetamine is available as a prescription drug, though the Institute notes that “most of the methamphetamine abused in [the United States] comes from foreign or domestic superlabs, although it can also be made in small, illegal laboratories.” [more]

[Canada] 'Nightmare' predicted as FAS makes some aboriginal youth vulnerable to gangs

By Susanna Kelley (CP) – Mar 16, 2010
Canadian Press

TORONTO — A higher incidence of fetal alcohol syndrome among some aboriginal communities in Canada is making their youth more vulnerable to being lured into gangs, experts say.

The syndrome, in which the brain of the fetus is damaged by excessive drinking during pregnancy, can make gang life seem exciting and attractive, say doctors and social workers who deal with aboriginal youth suffering from the condition.

And they worry that if more isn’t done to provide support those youth could be lost to criminal life forever.

“If we don’t get engaged in a solution for this issue, we are creating a nightmare, because we do know 60 per cent of the aboriginal population is under 25,” said Steve Koptie, a veteran social worker and Mohawk.

“This is… a demographic tsunami facing Canada.” [more]

[Alaska] Fetal alcohol syndrome rate in Alaska is declining

$29M GRANT: Stevens earmark for educational program given credit for downward trend.

Anchorage Daily News

The state has documented a 32 percent drop in the rate of Alaska children born with fetal alcohol syndrome. A state health official is attributing the decline largely to programs started under a multi-year, $29 million grant former U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens obtained in a 2000 congressional earmark.

The state used the money for both prevention and treatment of fetal alcohol syndrome, which occurs if a mother drinks during pregnancy. The state launched a multi-media campaign to educate people, and set up teams around the state to work with fetal alcohol kids.

“It did turn the corner,” Diane Casto, a manager in the state Division of Behavioral Health, said of the Stevens money. “What we know about prevention … you need to get the message out strongly, consistently, over and over again. It gave a good kick-start.” [more]