Meth Spawns New Generation of Drug Damaged Babies

You may have heard of 'crack babies'. They're children born addicted to crack cocaine. Now with the insurgence of methamphetamine in the Heartland, doctor's are starting to see more and more 'meth babies'.

Meth babies are born to mothers who used methamphetamine during their pregnancy. We've shown you how snorting, smoking or shooting meth can affect an adult it has an even more devastating affect on a developing baby. And it can be fatal. Over the past few years, Dr. Scott Weiner, a pediatrician at Southeast Hospital in Cape Girardeau, has treated several babies born to mothers on methamphetamine. He says some babies will have no visible effects. But, others will be very jittery, have a high pitched cry, they look like cocaine babies.

The number of meth labs is growing in the Heartland, and police predict, so are the number of meth users. Right now, meth is the drug of choice for adults in the Heartland, many of them women in their childbearing years. And while a crack cocaine high can last about three hours, a meth high can last for 12 hours, that means a longer fetal exposure to it's damaging effects. Dr. Weiner says meth babies are often born premature, with a birthrate which means other problems, more bleeds in the head and also a condition that causes a severe abdominal infection that can be fatal.

Many of the problems a meth baby will have can be treated at the hospital. But, although there's little research on the long-term impact, Dr. Weiner says, a 'meth child' will probably deal with the same kinds of developmental problems as 'crack child'. Those long term effects can range from attention deficit disorder, hyperactivity, learning disabilities to irritability and fits of rage.