'I’m going to be brave' - Girl, 11, knows her mother's drug taking meant she was exposed to P in the uterus

By Janet McIntyre

Grace is only 11 but she’s old enough to understand the bullet point in her medical records – “exposed to P in utero”. Source: Sunday

She's like a kitten – with her springy limbs and bright, wide eyes. She giggles, shrieks and darts around the room to Demi Lovato, then smooches up to me and whispers in my ear: "I dare you to ask Gary (the cameraman) out for dinner!" Little minx!

Just as she catches my heart she breaks it. "I'm not like other kids, I'm not special ... I don't even know if I'm meant to be here."

Grace, a name we have given her, is only 11 but she's old enough to understand the bullet point in her medical records – "Exposed to P in utero". 

"When I was in my Mum's stomach she was taking the drugs and so the drugs went into me. And I kind of ended up the way I am."

It's true. Her mum Sharon confirmed on the phone she used meth in her pregnancy, but in her defence, she said, "only in the first 11 weeks".

Grace was removed from the family home when she was 3 after it was proved Sharon was still using P.  

Research into the effects of methamphetamine on children is scarce. Professor Trecia Wouldes of Auckland University is doing the only long term study in the world, assessing the development of 107 New Zealand children over the past twelve years.  

"For those who continue to live in environments where there's mental illness, where there’s ongoing drug use, and where they've had that prenatal exposure - the outlook is not good."

She says six and a half year olds have poor memory, emotional and behavioural problems. "They're the kids in the classroom that are going to get kicked out of school and then by nine or 10 are going to start using drugs". But she says these problems are not unfixable. 

Professor Wouldes is calling for all women to be screened for P during pregnancy, and for those identified and their babies to get access to the treatment they need. A mum who continues to abuse substances through her pregnancy is likely to return to a toxic environment of drugs and violence she says. "It's a double whammy for a child, already exposed to drugs".

She says we don't know yet how these children will be effected as adults. 

Grace snuggles into the plump arms of her Nana who's now raising her and finds the sweet spot.

"I feel safe that I'm not going to be hurt. I have my Nana and my Poppa and two teacher aides and I've got the whole school supporting me". 

Grace is so worth it. She has intelligence, insight and resolve way beyond her years and with the right help her carers think she can flourish.  

"I'm going to be brave, I'm going to be strong, I'm not going to let anything get to me."

Watch the full story on TVNZ1's Sunday programme at 7.30pm tomorrow.



One person dead, another seriously injured after two-car crash in Whangarei

One person died at the scene and another was hospitalised after a two-car crash in Whangarei today.

The injured person was transported to Whangarei Hospital in a serious condition.

Emergency services were called to the scene on Whareora Road around 3pm.

Whareora Road is blocked and diversions have been put in place.


A road closure sign in front of a Police vehicle
A road closure sign in front of a Police vehicle. Source: 1 NEWS

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Motorcyclist scolds woman reading while driving on Auckland motorway

Go-pro footage of a woman reading a book while driving on one of Auckland's main highways has sparked interest online and a warning from police. 

The woman in the video, which was posted to the Highway Express Truck NZ Facebook page yesterday, can be seen reading while driving on the Northern Motorway, which has a speed limit of 100km per hour.

The motorcyclist does a double take when he sees this and decides to slow down and confront her.

Once he's positioned his bike next to her car, he toots his horn and shouts "Put that f**** s*** away."

Oddly enough, members of the Facebook page weren't surprised by the woman's behaviour and commented how they see this all too often.

"Things we see on the motorway. I've seen plenty reading books/newspapers, folding washing, doing makeup, filling out a form the list goes on," commented one person. 

Another said "Sadly, it's all too common."

Senior Sergeant Brett Henshaw said it is important that all drivers drive without distraction, reports the NZ Herald.

"Nobody wants to share the road with a driver who isn't paying full attention. It just takes one person, being distracted for one second, to potentially cause a life-changing crash," he said.

Senior Sergeant Henshaw said the footage has been referred to the Road Policing team for review and further action where appropriate.

Anyone who witnesses dangerous driving behaviour is encouraged to report it immediately to the police via 111. Other traffic offences can be reported on *555.


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