A decades-long study has found almost no differences between babies born to a crack mother and those born to a non-addicted mother — when the two groups are matched up by their socioeconomic status.
Both groups of low-income children were at a significant disadvantage when compared to an average child, which means that being born into poverty had more of an impact on that child’s IQ scores and long-term accomplishment than did being born to a drug-addicted mother.
That’s not to say there aren’t problems with smoking crack during pregnancy: the likelihood of premature birth and other pregnancy complications goes up. Just like alcohol or smoking, crack isn’t good for babies, and should be avoided.
The study itself looked only at babies who were born at full-term, not those born premature, to avoid these complications. Premature babies have all sorts of complications that could impact intelligence and emotional development.
In 1989, about one in six children born in Philadelphia were born to cocaine-positive mothers. The 25-year-long study followed 224 babies born between 1989 and 1992, half of whom had been exposed to cocaine before birth. Importantly, the babies were matched on their ethnic and socioeconomic background. Almost all of them were African American.
The children were examined every six months to every year, testing everything from intelligence to emotional development, achievement, and brain scans. When searching for effects of crack smoking mothers, what they really discovered was the impact of being born into poverty. Both groups — the control and those children who were born to crack smokers — scored lower than average on IQ and other tests.
“Given what we learned,” study researcher Hallam Hurt told The Philadelphia Inquirer, “we are invested in better understanding the effects of poverty. How can early effects be detected? Which developing systems are affected? And most important, how can findings inform interventions for our children?”
They were also exposed to violence in their youth, which can cause depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem reports Philly.com:
81 per cent of the children had seen someone arrested; 74 per cent had heard gunshots; 35 per cent had seen someone get shot; and 19 per cent had seen a dead body outside – and the kids were only 7 years old at the time.
Read more about the study at Philly.com, including the success story of one such child, Jaimee Drakewood >
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