Methamphetamine is a powerful stimulant that raises dopamine levels and is used both as an illicit drug, or by prescription when treating certain attention and sleep disorders.
Prescription meth ingestion and illicit drug use in general is not recommended for pregnant women or for women who are currently nursing.
While the exact amount of time will vary per person, meth and meth metabolites have shown to be present in breast milk for a few days after the drug was last used.
Using meth can also affect a woman’s level of lactation.
Further, it is not recommended that women use meth as a recreational drug while caring for a newborn in the postpartum period, breastfeeding or not, as it can drastically impair their judgment and behavior.
Detection Time Of Meth In Human Milk
The half-life for meth is around 10 hours on average, but can range heavily from around 5 to 30 hours depending on various factors. No amount of meth in breast milk is considered safe for newborn babies.
On average, meth leaves the body through a process called excretion and is undetectable in breastmilk after 72 hours.
However, healthcare providers recommend that nursing mothers wait up to 100 hours after using meth to breastfeed.
Drug testing, which detects the presence of drugs of abuse in the body, can also help women ensure they are clean before nursing, such as urine tests or urine drug screens.
Can Babies Get High From Breastfeeding?
If someone were to breastfeed their baby while high, it is very unlikely that the baby would get a meth high as well. However, it is not considered safe to care for a newborn while high on crystal meth.
While some of the drug does pass through breast milk to the baby, it is a very small amount, and it has already been processed in the mother’s body and converted into a different form.
This new form can still affect the baby negatively, but it cannot get them high.
Effects Of Methamphetamine Abuse On Newborns
Some of the effects of methamphetamine use on children of women who used meth are not present at birth or in the short-term.
They only become apparent after the child is older and may be related to meth use while breastfeeding as well.
Oftentimes, it is the child’s central nervous system that is most affected.
Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
Toddlers and children of mothers who used meth during pregnancy are at a higher risk for developing attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
ADHD may not be apparent until a child is older, but can result in concentration issues that give them problems in school and in social situations.
Cognitive problems can also appear in children of mothers who used meth during pregnancy, although these issues will also likely not be apparent until the child is at least a toddler.
Examples of cognitive problems that appear in children of women who used meth during pregnancy include memory problems, poor motor coordination, and identity confusion.
Poor Movement Quality
Not only can meth use during pregnancy cause poor motor coordination later on in the child, but it can also result in delayed and poor movement quality in other ways. A baby born from meth use may also have poor or delayed muscle strength or range of motion.
A baby born to a mother who used meth during pregnancy may also be slower to start walking than other babies.
Risks Of Prenatal Methamphetamine Exposure
Meth use can be very dangerous while breastfeeding, but the risks start much earlier during the pregnancy itself and the side effects on the unborn baby can be very detrimental.
Risks of prenatal meth exposure on the unborn baby include:
- preterm birth
- low birth weight
- small head circumference
- vision and hearing problems
- brain and heart developmental abnormalities
- slow physical growth
- increased risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
Withdrawal Symptoms Of Meth Abuse In Babies
More research is needed on the subject of meth withdrawal symptoms in babies. Current studies have shown that babies born to mothers addicted to meth do not show signs of withdrawal from the drug themselves.
While withdrawal symptoms can be severe in the case of an opioid use disorder, the same is not shown to be true with an amphetamine like meth.
Addiction Treatment Options For Meth Use
If someone you know has an addiction to meth, it is incredibly important to get them professional help, especially if they are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Treatment for a meth addiction will begin with a period of medically monitored detox, so the person can get sober safely and comfortably under the supervision of health care providers.
This will also allow them to avoid certain uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms.
After the person reaches sobriety, they can enter either inpatient or outpatient care to continue their addiction treatment.
No matter which type of program they decide on, there will be many options available for therapy and counseling.
Find Substance Use Disorder Treatment At Bedrock Recovery Center
Entering addiction treatment for meth addiction or another type of substance abuse can be an intimidating endeavor, but you do not have to go through it alone. Bedrock Recovery Center is here for you.
While we specialize in early recovery, we can help you no matter what part of the drug use recovery journey you are on.
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- National Institute on Drug Abuse https://nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/methamphetamine/what-are-risks-methamphetamine-misuse-during-pregnancy?msclkid=32ce2216c1c011ecb7de1f79cf0320ec
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: National Institute of Health (NIH) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4668928/
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration https://www.samhsa.gov/meth