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Developmental outcomes of 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (ecstasy)-exposed infants in the UK

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OBJECTIVE: This paper aims to review findings from a longitudinal study of prenatal methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA, “ecstasy”) on infant development.

METHODS: In a prospective, longitudinal cohort design, we followed 28 MDMA-exposed and 68 non-MDMA-exposed infants from birth to 2 years of age. Women recruited voluntarily into a study of recreational drug use during pregnancy were interviewed to obtain type, frequency, and amount of recreational drug use. Their children were followed for a 2-year period after birth. A large number of drug and environmental covariates were controlled. Infants were seen at 1, 4, 12, 18, and 24 months using standardized normative tests of mental and motor development.

RESULTS: There were no differences between MDMA-exposed and non-MDMA-exposed infants at birth except that MDMA-exposed infants were more likely to be male. Motor delays were evident in MDMA infants at each age and amount of MDMA exposure predicted motor deficits at 12 months in a dose-dependent fashion.

CONCLUSIONS: Prenatal MDMA exposure is related to fine and gross motor delays in the first 2 years of life. Follow-up studies are needed to determine long-term effects.

Singer, L. T., Moore, D. G., Min, M. O., Goodwin, J., Turner, J. J., Fulton, S., & Parrott, A. C. (2015). Developmental outcomes of 3, 4‐methylenedioxymethamphetamine (ecstasy)‐exposed infants in the UK. Human Psychopharmacology: Clinical and Experimental, 30(4), 290-294.

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