Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Rethinking crack babies

Remember crack babies? Yeah, not so much. Turns out that alcohol and tobacco appear to be far worse for fetuses than cocaine, either powder or crack. Cocaine use by mothers during pregnancy does result in lower birth weights, though kids recover the majority of their weight and by age 7 have IQs that are only 4 points lower than that of kids whose mothers didn't do coke or crack.

The author notes that pregnant women who use illegal drugs commonly lose custody of their children, and in earlier years were prosecuted. Presumably the same does not apply to women who drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes while pregnant, despite the fact that they cause more harm to fetuses.

The doctor discussing all of this says something that applies to pretty much everyone when it comes to drug use, and not just "crack babies":

“Society’s expectations of the children,” she said, “and reaction to the mothers are completely guided not by the toxicity, but by the social meaning” of the drug.

Unfortunately I can't find it now, but I remember reading an article recently where the author mentioned that society's lowered expectation of kids whose mothers did drugs while they were pregnant is probably a bigger contributing factor to these kids' development than the drug use itself.


Unknown said...

I just gotta wonder why the IQ test is contained as relevant. It's not really something to be taken any kind of seriously. That four point difference could well have more to do with the impact of socioeconomic factors on intellectual development as defined by some dead rich white men.

Anonymous said...

These poor children should be called "Contra Babies", not "crack babies", because of the fact that the Reagan assisted death squads in Nicaragua known as the contras smuggled cocaine into the United States.