Iowa Sees Rise in Meth-Exposed Babies

Social workers and healthcare officials in Iowa report a significant increase in the number of babies and children exposed to methamphetamine, the Associated Press reported June 27.

Karen Johnson, social-work supervisor for Child Protection Services for the Iowa Department of Human Services in Linn County, said the rise in meth use in the state has caused the number of meth-exposed children to reach epidemic proportions.

Many of the youngsters are showing medical and development problems, such as muscle tremors, learning disabilities, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, antisocial behavior, malnutrition, and excessive sleepiness.

“The drug creates organic damage to the brain, so parts of the brain don’t function properly,” said Resmiye Oral, M.D., pediatrician and director of the Child Protection Program at University Hospitals in Iowa City. “The damage is permanent.”

The rise in meth use is also forcing social workers and Iowa courts to place a greater number of children in foster care or with relatives.