Meth Houses Pose Multiple Threats for Children Living Inside

By Megan Trent

March 21, 2011 Updated Mar 21, 2011 at 6:38 PM EDT

INDIANA, Ind. (Indiana's NewsCenter) - We've heard how dangerous meth is for adults, but what about the children forced to live in a home where meth is being manufactured?

In 2007, there were 124 children found living inside of a home with a meth lab, according to an Indiana State Police report. In 2010, just three years later, there were more than double that number - 270 children in total. Of course, those statistics only account for people who were actually caught.

Health officials say since the parents are most likely meth addicts, children are far more likely to be neglected or abused. That is especially true when it comes to meeting a developing child's nutritional needs.

Children can also be burned or killed during a meth explosion. In addition, the chemicals used, fumes produced, and ingesting the finished product can increase one's heart rate and blood pressure. Hallucinations, paranoia, irritability, drug withdraws, and breathing problems can also develop.

Dr. Deborah McMahan, Allen County Health Commissioner says, "We know that the brain does not complete development until at least age 25. And we know from other toxins, like lead, that it is particularly harmful when young children and their developing central nervous system are exposed to these types of chemicals that can cause damage."

The full extent of the long term health consequences for children exposed to meth are not fully understood and may never be. To study those effects, one would have to actually give a child meth and document the effects. Since that is clearly unethical, doctors say we never fully understand all of the devastation meth can have on a child.

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