A study by Doctors of Philosophy Barry Lester and Linda Lagasse titled “Children of Addicted Women” was published in the National Center for Biotechnology Information or NCBI website. It had 191 reference articles, books, or publications, and thousands upon thousands of valuable words on the issue. The bottom line is that their study explains in detail that women who are using drugs while pregnant are risking the lives of their children. Yes, the children are alive, and they grow up seemingly ordinary, but there is something not quite right with them, mentally, behaviorally, physically and emotionally.
The authors wanted to know the effects of drug exposure on babies in utero – how it will affect them during their preschool and adolescent stages. The drugs focused on were cocaine, crystal meth, and opiates, but most of the children in their study had exposure to cocaine. Subjects of the study ranged from children as early as four years old to 13 years old. All in all, 42 were highlighted.
Exposure To Cocaine
Eighteen studies revealed results connected with behavioral problems in children exposed to cocaine. Ten of the eighteen studies had adverse outcomes.
Eight studies used Child Behavior Checklist sheets. Four were Teacher Report Forms. One of the studies used the Youth Risk Behavior Survey, and three were a type of teacher report. The remaining were behavioral interpretations. Generally, girls were antagonistic, and boys were law offenders.
One study had a report of a child who has ADHD or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. In another study, a child suffers from Oppositional Defiance Disorder. There were no reports of suicidal tendencies. It is also highly likely that children exposed to cocaine while in their mother’s womb were smokers, some as early as ten years old.
As for language issues, seven studies proved that the children experienced speech deficiencies while one concluded that there was no such effect. These were children three to seven years old.
The cognitive functioning of the children was also impaired. Seven studies proved that the children had a low cognitive ability with their reduced attention skills and impulsive acts. One study reviewed problems on the motor skills of children, as well.
The school performance of the children was also a topic on the reviews. Out of seven studies, three had recommendations for special education and academic assistance programs. Only one had a high rating for school success, but then again various factors were involved.
Conclusion By The Authors
The authors have sufficient data to believe that children whose mothers used cocaine while pregnant will suffer from a variety of behavioral issues, language and speech problems, lack of attention and focus on details, and impaired cognitive functioning. As for having low IQ and poor school success, evidence was inconclusive.
What To Do Now?
In the first instance that behavioral issues are observed in a child, there are appropriate early intervention programs focused on behavioral treatment. These are helpful and effective. Some even include medication which is of course regulated by a qualified physician.
Some also use a motivational incentive system. This is for the children to learn how to curb their behavior and manage it so that they will get a reward. Of course, the prize can be a material object or something intangible. Parents are usually the ones implementing this practice at home, and it eliminates the onset of other mental health issues like depression, anxiety or stress.
(For example, an ADHD kid needs to write his homework daily since he slacks off or just doesn’t do it. If he does that every single day for a week, he is allowed a playtime at the park on the weekend.)
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is also another solution. With CBT, the kids will have to exercise their critical thinking, and this can improve their attention and focus.