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Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2011 May;98(3):432-9. doi: 10.1016/j.pbb.2011.02.013. Epub 2011 Feb 18.

Abnormalities in parentally rated executive function in methamphetamine/polysubstance exposed children.

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  • 1Methamphetamine Abuse Research Center, ONPRC, Oregon Health and Science University, USA.


Methamphetamine/polysubstance abuse in women of childbearing age is a major concern because of the potential long-term detrimental effects on the brain function of the fetus following in utero exposure. A battery of established tests, including the Wechsler Abbreviated Scale of Intelligence, Conners' Continuous Performance Test II, Behavioral Rating Inventory of Executive Function, the CMS Family Pictures and Dot Location tests, the Spatial Span test from the WISC-IV-Integrated, and a recently developed spatial learning and memory measure (Memory Island), was used to assess the effects of prenatal drug exposure on neurobehavioral performance. Participants were 7 to 9 year old children from similar socioeconomic backgrounds who either had (N=31) or had not (N=35) been exposed to methamphetamine/polysubstance during pregnancy. Compared to unexposed children, exposed children showed pronounced elevations (i.e. more problems) in parental ratings of executive function, including behavioral regulation and metacognition. Exposed children also exhibited subtle reductions in spatial performance in the Memory Island test. In contrast, IQ, Spatial Span, Family Pictures, Dot Location, and vigilance performance were unaffected by prenatal drug exposure history. Thus, children of women who reported using methamphetamine and other recreational drugs during pregnancy showed a selective profile of abnormalities in parentally rated executive function.

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