(HealthDay News) Use of 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), or ecstasy, before and during pregnancy poses a risk to the developing infant.

Lynn T. Singer, PhD, of the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland, and associates investigated patterns and correlates of MDMA use with neonatal and early infancy outcomes of offspring. Ninety-six women were recruited through Case Western Reserve University and were interviewed about substance use prior to and during pregnancy. Infants were assessed at age 1 month and 4 months. Group differences between 28 polydrug-using women who had used MDMA during pregnancy, and 68 women who had not, were evaluated.

The researchers found that there were more negative sequelae associated with drug use for women who used MDMA during pregnancy, including more health, work, and social problems. MDMA use during pregnancy was associated with more male births, and infants had poorer motor quality and lower milestone attainment at 4 months, with a dose-response association seen for MDMA exposure.

“Despite some limitations, the present study provides the first prospective developmental follow-up of MDMA-exposed infants and provides information on MDMA use in recreational drug users during pregnancy in a largely middle-class example,” the authors write. “Findings of differences in sex ratio, and lower motor attainment and quality associated with heavier exposure to MDMA in the first trimester, suggest risk to the developing child.”

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