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Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics:
Original Articles

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

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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.

© 2004 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.

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