Study examines effects of prenatal cocaine exposure and influence of home environment on IQ scores

l cocaine exposure was also associated with a lower likelihood of achievement of IQ above normative means."

The researchers continue, "Comparisons indicated that cocaine-exposed children in foster or adoptive care lived in more stimulating home environments and their caregivers had better vocabulary scores than those of cocaine-exposed children in biological maternal or relative care and nonexposed children. In addition, cocaine-exposed children in foster or adoptive care had verbal, performance, and full-scale IQs equivalent to nonexposed children, while cocaine-exposed children in biological maternal or relative care had lower full-scale and performance IQ scores than nonexposed children, despite the fact that children in foster or adoptive care had twice the severity of cocaine exposure as measured by maternal report of the average numbers of 'rocks' of cocaine used weekly over the pregnancy. Moreover, the duration of placement in foster or adoptive care was positively related to full-scale IQ," the authors note.

"These findings indicate that prenatal cocaine exposure is associated with an increased risk for specific cognitive impairments and a lower likelihood of above average IQ at 4 years of age. In addition, our findings underscore the beneficial effects of environmental intervention in the prevention of mental retardation for cocaine-exposed children. Drug treatment and education for this population of pregnant women, along with intensive intervention for their offspring, are essential to help maximize the future well-being of these families," the authors conclude. (JAMA. 2004;291:2448-2456. Available post-embargo at JAMA.com).


Contact: George Stamatis
JAMA and Archives Journals

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