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Another Drug Crisis: Methamphetamine Use By Pregnant Women

Updated: Jan 29, 2020

Written by Rhitu Chatterjee,

Reporter / Editor, Science Desk

National Public Radio - All things Considered

November 29, 2018


Kristen Philman had already been using heroin and prescription painkillers for several years when, one day in 2014, a relative offered her some methamphetamine, a chemical cousin to the stimulant amphetamine.

"I didn't have any heroin at the time," says Philman, a resident of Littleton, Colo. "I thought, 'Oh this might make me feel better.' "

It did, she says. Soon, she was using both heroin and methamphetamine on a regular basis. "With heroin I would get sleepy, and then I needed the meth to kind of give me the boost," she says. "It was a daily thing. I would do heroin and do meth on top of that."

Then, in December, 2017, after a few months of missed periods, Philman took a home pregnancy test and the result was positive. "I was really scared, because I'd used meth and heroin from the day [my son] was conceived till the day I took the [pregnancy] test," she says.

Philman is among thousands of women around the United States who used the stimulants methamphetamine or prescription amphetamines during their pregnancy in recent years, researchers say. While the trend has garnered little media attention, physicians in some regions have been struggling to tackle the problem and the impact of the drug on the women and infants.

Since there are no medications to treat methamphetamine use disorder, some providers have had to improvise their approaches to treating these women, while many others remain unaware of the problem and how to deal with it.

A study published Thursday in the American Journal of Public Health confirms the rise in meth use among pregnant women and provides new data illustrating the scope of the problem. The research, which analyzed hospital discharge records between 2004 and 2015, found that...



Written by Rhitu Chatterjee,

Reporter / Editor, Science Desk, NPR

Novermber 29, 2018]












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