Research Shows Consequences of Exposure to Cocaine in the Womb Not Severe

Database of research on prenatal drug exposure and child outcomes

Investigators at the Brown University School of Medicine developed a computerized database of published studies of the developmental consequences to children of drug exposure in the womb.

The investigators used the database to summarize findings on the effects of prenatal exposure to cocaine.

The project was part of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's (RWJF) national Substance Abuse Policy Research Program (SAPRP) (for more information see the Program Results Report).

Key Findings: The researchers concluded that:

  • Children who were exposed to cocaine in the womb do not suffer severe or devastating consequences.
  • Many enter school with subtle deficits in intelligence and language ability that are amenable to intervention.
  • Cocaine use is accompanied by factors such as poverty and other drug use that affect child development.
  • Since there is no clear profile of the cocaine-exposed infant, clinicians should consider psychosocial, parenting and environmental factors in order to optimize their assessment and intervention.