2nd May 2006
Washington: Despite early predictions that "crack babies" would grow up to be delinquents, a new study has found that toddlers exposed to cocaine before birth exhibit no more behavioural problems than other children their age.
The study of 256 about half of whom were exposed to cocaine before birth, by a team of researchers led by Tamara D. Warner, Ph.D., a postdoctoral associate in the UF College of Medicine, found that 3-year-olds exposed to crack and powder cocaine in the womb, exhibit no more behavioural problems than other children their age, and that disruptive behaviours in children actually seem to be linked more closely to maternal depression than prenatal cocaine exposure.
Warner said that assumptions that kids exposed to cocaine in the womb will be problem kids are wrong.
"One might have expected that caregivers who took on children with prenatal cocaine exposure would've expected (more problems) and reported a higher number of problems. But that wasn't the case," she said.
The researchers also found that poverty could explain why many of mothers showed signs of depression, and in turn, depression could explain why mothers of cocaine-exposed and non-exposed children tended to report more behavioural problems, such as hyperactivity and impulsive behaviours.
The findings have been published in the current month’s issue of the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics.