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Children Prenatally Exposed to Cocaine: Developmental Outcomes and Environmental Risks at Seven Years of Age

ARENDT, ROBERT E. Ph.D.1; SHORT, ELIZABETH J. Ph.D.2; SINGER, LYNN T. Ph.D.3; MINNES, SONIA Ph.D.3; HEWITT, JULIE M.A.3; FLYNN, SARAH B.A.3; CARLSON, LISA M.A.3; MIN, MEEYOUNG O. Ph.D3; KLEIN, NANCY Ph.D.4; FLANNERY, DANIEL Ph.D.5

Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics:
Original Articles
Abstract

ABSTRACT. Data are equivocal regarding the long-term consequences of prenatal exposure to cocaine on school-aged children. We compared 101 children exposed prenatally to cocaine with 130 unexposed children on measures of intelligence, visual motor, and motor abilities at age 7 years. Bivariate analyses revealed that cocaine-exposed children scored significantly lower than comparison children on the abbreviated Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children-Third Edition Verbal and Full Scale IQ scores, the Visual Motor Integration and Motor Coordination standardized scores, and the Bruininks-Oseretsky Fine Motor Composite score. Regression analyses indicated that the biological mother's vocabulary and home environment assessed at the same 7-year visit were stronger predictors of developmental outcome than prenatal drug exposure. Level of cocaine exposure, however, predicted visual motor and motor skills. The results indicate that although prenatal cocaine exposure may confer some degree of developmental disadvantage in the visual motor domain, it frequently occurs in the context of an inadequate rearing environment, which may be a stronger determinant than prenatal cocaine exposure of children's outcome.

Author Information

1The Buckeye Ranch, Columbus, Ohio

2Department of Psychology, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio

3Department of Pediatrics, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio

4The College of Education, Cleveland State University, Cleveland, Ohio

5Institute for the Study and Prevention of Violence, Kent State University, Kent, Ohio

Received January 2002; accepted December 2003.

Portions of this article were presented at the 69th Annual Meeting of the Society for Pediatric Research, Boston, Massachusetts, May 2000, and the 34th Annual Gatlinburg Conference on Research and Theory in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, Charleston, South Carolina, March 2001.

Address for reprints: Elizabeth J. Short, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, 11220 Bellflower, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH 44106; e-mail: ejs3@po.cwru.edu.

© 2004 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.