A new campaign unveiled Monday seeks to get Iowans involved in recognizing and reporting kids who may be suffering from the drug use of the adults in their lives. Doctor Rizwan Shah, the medical director of the Regional Child Protection Center at Blank Children’s Hospital in Des Moines is an expert on children affected by drug abuse. Shah says the problems for some Iowa kids begin in the womb.
Shah says nationwide research indicates that six-percent of pregnant women in Iowa will use methamphetamine. She says it’s more important that 60-percent of those moms will also use alcohol, tobacco and marijuana while they’re pregnant. Shah says the exposure to drugs doesn’t stop once the kid is born.
Shah says parents who use drugs before the child’s birth will continue to use drugs after the child is born, unless there is proper intervention and treatment. Shah says it’s a continuation of the problem at a time in the child’s life when safety, stability and security are the three most important components in their development. Shah says Iowa has been a leader in addressing the problem. Shah says many communities, such as Ottumwa, Linn County, Sioux City, have created successful Drug Endangered Children task forces that help detect problem children and help the families with the follow up. She says the follow up is as important as identifying the problem.
Shah says there needs to be an effort to reach out the families whose lives have been affected by substance abuse, and to provide resources to help them overcome their addiction. Shah says you may not be able to pick a drug endangered child out by looking at them, but she says the impact is real.
Shah says there are developmental delays, emotionally and in their language. She says they also have nutritional problems because the children don’t have access to food. Shah says kids who’re deprived of food may start hoarding food and develop habits where they overeat. She says the kids don’t know how to play, because they have never had an adult sit down and play with them.
Shah says the new public service program " Drugs Hurt Kids " can help everyone in the state identify and deal with the problem of drug endangered kids.