April 28, 2005
Deep in America's heartland, hidden among the river towns and rolling
farmland, lies a heartbreaking epidemic, CBS News Correspondent Kelly
There is a generation of children being born to Methamphetamine-addicted
Meth babies now make up 80 percent of Doctor Rizwan Shah's practice.
Cobiella met one child who couldn't swallow when he was born. Two years
later, he still has to be fed through a tube.
His is an extreme case. The vast majority of meth babies look normal, but
they may only sleep an hour a night. They can have tremors, muscle
stiffness, and trouble gripping.
"Babies who are exposed to Methamphetamine are at risk for having a stroke
before they are born, in the mom's uterus," said Shaw. "And that cannot be
No one knows how much to blame meth alone, since most users also abuse
alcohol, marijuana and tobacco.
"I prayed every day that she would be all right," said mother Jamie Leach.
Leach was busted while six-months pregnant. She'd been using heavily —
passing the drug on to her baby Justice. At five months old, the child
"It breaks my heart that I could have caused her some kind of damage that
might not be detected," Leach said. "I worry about it every day."
But this is not a lost generation. Many of these meth-exposed babies can
grow into healthy children — with the right treatment and therapy.
Bridge of Hope is a new treatment center where recovering moms stay for
months at a time with their babies, learning techniques like infant
massage to soothe stiffened muscles.
Paired with a support group, Moms Off Meth, the program seems to be
working. All 12 Bridge of Hope graduates are sober, which is stunning,
considering the relapse rate for meth is between 50 and 90 percent.
Shah sees new patients every day. Heartbreaking, yes, she says, but not
"I can't change what happened to this child before birth," Shah said. "But
I have the ability and the opportunity to change everything that happens
to this child from now on."
This is a chance for the tiniest victims of this hidden epidemic.