Study: IQ Scores Not Lower in Babies Exposed to Cocaine

Research from Case Western Reserve University in Ohio finds that babies born to mothers who used cocaine heavily during pregnancy do not have lower IQ scores than other children, as originally believed, Reuters reported May 26.

The study found that cocaine-exposed babies have do problems with specific skills. Yet babies placed in foster care or in adoptive homes appeared to overcome even these problems.

“It’s important to dispel the myth of the crack-exposed baby that condemned them to hopeless status,” said lead author Dr. Lynn Singer. “Cocaine-exposed children are not as devastated as preliminary reports proposed, and can benefit from stimulating caregiving environments.”

The study tracked 190 cocaine-exposed children from birth until age 4. They were compared to 186 children who were not exposed to the drug.

The researchers found that both groups of children had similar IQ scores at age 4. However, the cocaine-exposed children performed worse on tasks involving visual-spatial skills, such as puzzles, and general knowledge and arithmetic tests.

Singer said the study’s findings suggest that, “early environmental intervention can prevent mental retardation for some cocaine-exposed infants.”

The study’s findings are published in the May 24 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.