January 27, 2009

It's Just A Rock: Study Shows Crack Babies Are Fine

if_you_get_hooked_baby.jpg

A long-term federally funded study of over 4,400 kids whose mothers used cocaine while pregnant finds that there are few effects on the kids' development, achievement and behavior. And what effects there are are not that big a deal. Whether in ghetto crack or classy powder form, coke use during pregnancy affects the kid far, far less than all the accompanying social factors: like losing custody of your kids for illegal drug use, or being poor and in unstable family environments.

In fact, reports the New York Times, after leading off with "Cocaine is undoubtedly bad for the fetus,":

But experts say its effects are less severe than those of alcohol and are comparable to those of tobacco -- two legal substances that are used much more often by pregnant women, despite health warnings.
The Times goes on: "Researchers studying children exposed to cocaine say they struggle to interpret their findings for the public without exaggerating their significance -- or minimizing it, either." Did anyone ever think that maybe the researchers whose findings rather inconveniently refute the conventional moral order are the real silent victims here?

Crack Babies: The Epidemic That Wasn't [nyt, image: spike lee]

8 Comments

great post, greg.

funny, for a book project i've been reading about the way the media covers fat (NYT science reporter Gina Kolata's Rethinking Thin and nutrition professor Linda Bacon's Health at Every Size, for instance) and i'm seeing major parallels here. DON'T CARE ABOUT THE EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE! MUST CONTINUE MORAL-JUDGMENT-FILLED NARRATIVE! DEMONIZE! DEMONIZE! OK!

Thanks for this post Greg. On thing that the article fails to mention that women are still being prosecuted for child abuse if they test positive for cocaine during their pregnancy (especially in southern states) - and their are far too few treatment centers that are willing to accept pregnant women. Many of the laws that were developed during the "crack baby era" are now refocusing on meth users, with again, little to no scientific evidence to back up the claims, and NO available treatment.

A child's environmental factors are paramount to his growing to be mentally, emotionally and physically healthy, but I shudder at the thought of adding active addiction to pregnancy. I found more info on this at [some freaking spam site trawling for addicts' families so they can funnel them into a private clinic.]. I have to stay on this stuff for term paper

Lisa: Prosecution should be enforced. Go watch an infant go through withdrawal as I have and witness their pain. We would prosecute a person who gives an infant drugs, we need to protect the unforn infant as well. Yes, the kids are resilient and grow normal with proper care, but you can not negate the lower birth weights, withdrawal, failure to thrive, etc. that come with being born addicted to drugs. Please go visit a county hospital and try to hold an infant going through withdrawal to feel their pain - then, and only then, make a decision. I've been there.

the study shows that the exact symptoms you describe--those associated with prenatal exposure to cocaine--don't appear to have persistent detrimental effect as the kid grows up. No one, i think, is debating that being born addicted to coke wouldn't suck. What IS worth debating, though, is the proper--i.e., most effective, most beneficial for the kid/family--response to prenatal drug use vs prenatal liquor use or prenatal Virginia Slims use.

If a study showed that having your mom lose custody, go to jail, and never get treatment for a drug problem posed persistent, longterm risks for a kid's development, would all the "but think of the children!" enforcement activists switch to "but think of the children!" treatment & counselling activists? Somehow I doubt it.

of course it will cause damage. some of the babies if people i know who did drugs developed heart complications.

guess that ambiguous anecdote refutes the scientific studies completely, thanks!

this is bullshit

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