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Tool May Allow Doctors to Assess Meth Impact on Babies Exposed Before Birth

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A new assessment tool may allow doctors to evaluate the impact of methamphetamine on babies exposed in the womb. The tool may help identify which babies will go on to develop problems due to exposure to the drug, according to a new study.

Medical News Today reports that doctors at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University and Women & Infants Hospital in Providence, RI, looked at the effects of prenatal exposure to methamphetamine in 185 newborns and compared them with 195 newborns who were not exposed to meth, but were exposed to alcohol, tobacco or marijuana before birth.

They reported at the Pediatric Academic Societies meeting in Denver that an assessment tool called the NICU Network Neurobehavioral Scale (NNNS) was used to evaluate the babies during the first four days of life and again when they were one month old.  The tool evaluates the babies’ muscle tone, reflexes, behavior, motor development and stress.

The researchers said that the tests could help identify which babies are doing well and which are the ones who could benefit from intervention and prevention services.

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