Behavior Problems During Early Childhood in Children With Pr
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The effects of in utero methamphetamine exposure on behavioral problems in school-aged children are unclear. The objective for this study was to evaluate behavior problems in children at aged 3, 5, and 7.5 years who were prenatally exposed to methamphetamine.

Subjects were enrolled in the Infant Development, Environment, and Lifestyle study, a longitudinal prospective study of prenatal methamphetamine exposure and child outcomes. Exposed and comparison groups were matched on birth weight, race, education, and health insurance. At ages 3, 5, and 7.5 years, 339 children (171 exposed) were assessed for behavior problems by using the Child Behavior Checklist. Generalized estimating equations were used to determine the effects of prenatal methamphetamine exposure, age, and the interaction of exposure and age on behavior problems. Caregiver psychological symptoms were assessed by using the Brief Symptom Inventory.

Analyses adjusted for covariates revealed that relative to age 3, children at 5 years had less externalizing and aggressive behavior and more internalizing behavior, somatic complaints, and withdrawn behavior. By age 7.5, aggressive behavior continued to decrease, attention problems increased and withdrawn behavior decreased. There were no main effects for methamphetamine exposure and no interactions of exposure and age. Caregiver psychological symptoms predicted all behavior problems and the quality of the home predicted externalizing problems and externalizing syndrome scores.

Behavioral effects longitudinally from ages 3 to 7.5 years were not associated with prenatal methamphetamine exposure, whereas caregiver psychological symptoms and the quality of the home were predictors of behavior problems.