impact of prenatal exposure to cocaineOne of the longest running study on the impact of prenatal exposure to cocaine and crack has finally concluded after almost 25 year with surprising results. The so-called “crack babies” have shown few if any differences from non-exposed children from similar backgrounds.

The years of tracking kids have led Hurt [lead researcher in this longitudinal study] to a conclusion she didn’t see coming.

“Poverty is a more powerful influence on the outcome of inner-city children than gestational exposure to cocaine,” Hurt said at her May lecture.

Other researchers also couldn’t find any devastating effects from cocaine exposure in the womb. Claire Coles, a psychiatry professor at Emory University, has been tracking a group of low-income Atlanta children. Her work has found that cocaine exposure does not seem to affect children’s overall cognition and school performance, but some evidence suggests that these children are less able to regulate their reactions to stressful stimuli, which could affect learning and emotional health.

Coles said her research had found nothing to back up predictions that cocaine-exposed babies were doomed for life. “As a society we say, ‘Cocaine is bad and therefore it must cause damage to babies,’ ” Coles said. “When you have a myth, it tends to linger for a long time.”​”​

Image credit: donnierayjones