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Researchers found no consistent, negative association between prenatal cocaine exposure and physical growth

Boston University : 27 March, 2001  (Technical Article)
Researchers at Boston University Schools of Medicine and Public Health have found there is no consistent, negative association between prenatal cocaine exposure and physical growth, developmental test scores, or receptive or expressive language. The study, which appears in the March 27, 2001, issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, suggests that prenatal exposure to tobacco, marijuana or alcohol, and the quality of the child's post natal environment may contribute more to developmental impairments than cocaine exposure.
Researchers at Boston University Schools of Medicine and Public Health have found there is no consistent, negative association between prenatal cocaine exposure and physical growth, developmental test scores, or receptive or expressive language. The study, which appears in the March 27, 2001, issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, suggests that prenatal exposure to tobacco, marijuana or alcohol, and the quality of the child's post natal environment may contribute more to developmental impairments than cocaine exposure.

Evaluating data from 36 studies dating back to 1984, the researchers reviewed post-neonatal outcomes of children exposed to cocaine in five domains: physical growth; cognition; language; motor and behavior. 'The widespread popular belief that a mother's cocaine use inflicts unique and permanent damage on the child's development rests on uncritical reading of studies which did not conform to the principles of careful science,' said study lead author Deborah Frank, MD, an associate professor of pediatrics at Boston University School of Medicine and a pediatrician at Boston Medical Center. 'In the majority of the research we analyzed, we did not find a negative association of prenatal cocaine exposure, independent of environmental risk and prenatal exposure to other psychoactive substances with developmental test scores from infancy to six years,' she added.

'As rates of cocaine addiction soared in the late 1980's and early 1990's, the media described these children as 'doomed,' a biologic underclass of children unable to learn or love. That is simply not the case. In fact, the research suggests that poverty plays a much more destructive role in these children's lives than prenatal cocaine exposure,' she added.
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