Note to press – just say NO to ‘Meth Babies’

Jacob Sullum properly points out the hysteria behind the latest unfounded crack baby: the meth baby. He quotes from an open letter from physicians and drug treatment specialists:

Despite the lack of a medical or scientific basis for the use of such terms as “ice” and “meth” babies, these pejorative and stigmatizing labels are increasingly being used in the popular media, in a wide variety of contexts across the country. Even when articles themselves acknowledge that the effects of prenatal exposure to methamphetamine are still unknown, headlines across the country are using alarmist and unjustified labels such as “meth babies.”…

Although research on the medical and developmental effects of prenatal methamphetamine exposure is still in its early stages, our experience with almost 20 years of research on the chemically related drug, cocaine, has not identified a recognizable condition, syndrome or disorder that should be termed “crack baby” nor found the degree of harm reported in the media and then used to justify numerous punitive legislative proposals.

The term “meth addicted baby” is no [more] defensible. Addiction is a technical term that refers to compulsive behavior that continues in spite of adverse consequences. By definition, babies cannot be “addicted” to methamphetamines or anything else.

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