'Crack Babies' Not Such a Big Worry After All

Factors other than cocaine may have fueled 1980s fears

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted May 27, 2013 8:15 AM CDT

(Newser) – All that time spent worrying about "crack babies" in the 1980s may have been for naught: Researchers reviewed 27 previous studies involving some 5,000 teens whose mothers had been cocaine users during pregnancy and found little proof of any major long-term ill effects. Though the kids (all from low-income families, and mostly from black urban backgrounds) were sometimes found to suffer from issues related to behavior, attention, or anxiety, other factors may have been to blame for those issues—like family violence, continuing family drug use, and financial struggles, the AP reports.

These teens were sometimes found to score lower than their peers on developmental tests, but the scores weren't outside the normal range. The review is just the latest research to question earlier findings on so-called "crack babies." Recent studies have suggested premature births may have fueled some of the symptoms (like jitteriness) these babies displayed; once tracked beyond infancy, no severe problems have been uncovered in such children. "The field of prenatal cocaine exposure has advanced significantly since the misleading 'crack baby' scare of the 1980s," say the researchers.

It's not so clear that cocaine use during pregnancy has long-term effects on kids, scientists find.   (Shutterstock)
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