Children exposed to cocaine in the womb face serious consequences from the drug, but fortunately not in certain critical physical and cognitive areas as previously believed, according to a new comprehensive review of research on the subject from scientists at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. When a pregnant woman uses cocaine, it can interrupt the flow of nutrients and oxygen to the baby, putting such children at risk for premature birth, low birth weight and many other problems.
The new review of multiple major studies conducted on cocaine-exposed, school-aged children found this negative impact significantly affected children in subtle areas such as sustained attention and self-regulated behavior. The research, however, showed surprisingly little impairment directly from cocaine in key areas such as growth, IQ, academic achievement and language functioning.
Many of the children did have low IQ and poor academic and language achievement. The research suggested, though, that these apparent impairments were often caused by the troublesome home environment that goes along with cocaine use, rather than directly from the cocaine itself.
See also: Crack Babies: The Epidemic That Wasn’t