Longitudinal study investigates cocaine's impact on adolescent development

Aug 19, 2009

Teen years are filled with experimenting. Sometimes that means trying some risky behaviors.

Nearly 400 teens, half of which were prenatally exposed to cocaine, will be studied in their adolescent years. Researchers will look at the youths' choices when it comes to using drugs, having sex or engaging in delinquent behaviors, and see if there is an association with prenatal . The study will also closely follow the and behavior of the young people.

Sonia Minnes, an assistant professor from the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences at Case Western Reserve University and now the lead researcher in phase four of a long-term study of cocaine exposed children, has received a five-year, nearly $5 million grant from the National Institute on (NIDA).

"This latest funding will help us to continue to tell the story of what happens in the development of prenatally cocaine-exposed children," says Minnes.

With the inception of this new study, "Prenatal Cocaine Exposure in Adolescence," Minnes and her co-investigators will follow the children through age 18.

The study began with 415 infant-mother (or caretaker) pairs recruited at the infant's birth. Over the years, the children's development has been followed, as well as the mental health and substance abuse by the mother or caregiver. In three previous phases of NIDA funding, the researchers found that prenatal cocaine exposure negatively affects attention, language development, behavior and the ability to process visual information.

"Most people know that mothers should not use drugs during pregnancy," says Minnes. "This study over time will tell us what risks are associated with a specific prenatal drug exposure and how environmental influences shape developmental outcomes."

She adds that they have found important environmental factors such as elevated blood lead, maternal mental health and vocabulary level and the type of caregiver placement, are important to consider in evaluating prenatal cocaine exposure's effect on developmental outcome. "The study will help us understand what interventions are needed at different developmental stages in their lives."

The study has been underway since 1994, when Lynn Singer, deputy provost and professor of pediatrics in the school of medicine, questioned what happens to prenatally cocaine-exposed children as they grow older. Minnes, who worked as the project coordinator since its beginning, became the study's principal investigator in 2007.

Her recent appointment to the Mandel School of Applied Social Science, where she earned her doctorate in social work, comes at a pivotal point in the study's progress as the focus shifts towards social behavior issues traditionally studied in the realm of social work, says Minnes. She will draw from the expertise of colleagues at MSASS who can provide additional insight regarding the effects of neighborhood and family violence, parental substance use, and placement issues on the development of prenatally cocaine-exposed adolescents.

Findings from the study will provide important information to early intervention specialists and child policy experts who can then develop targeted therapeutic interventions.

Source: Case Western Reserve University (news : web)

Explore further: CDC: Almost everyone needs a flu shot

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Prenatal drug exposure linked to sleep problems in children

Jun 10, 2008

In the first study across time into late childhood of the effects of prenatal drug exposure on sleep, prenatal drug exposure is associated with greater sleep problems in children. In addition, nicotine has a unique effect, ...

Your baby's brain on drugs (and alcohol and tobacco)

Apr 07, 2008

Although behavioral studies clearly indicate that exposure to drugs, alcohol and tobacco in utero is bad for a baby’s developing brain, specific anatomic brain effects have been hard to tease out in humans. Often users ...

Prenatal Cocaine Exposure Impairs Infants' Response to Stress

Jan 20, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Infants exposed prenatally to cocaine react more emotionally to stress and appear to have fewer stress-reducing coping strategies than infants with no cocaine exposure, researchers at the University at Buffalo's ...

Study shows how cocaine impairs fetal brain development

Jun 10, 2008

Exposure of the developing brain to cocaine can cause neurological and behavioral abnormalities in babies born to mothers who use the drug during pregnancy. In a study research published in this week's PLoS Medicine, Chun-T ...

Cocaine use related to level of education achieved

Aug 29, 2007

The decreased use of cocaine in the United States over the last 20 years mostly occurred among the highly educated, while cocaine use among non-high school graduates remained constant, according to a study by researchers ...

Recommended for you

Electronic health records tied to shorter time in ER

16 hours ago

(HealthDay)—Length of emergency room stay for trauma patients is shorter with the use of electronic health records, according to a study published in the September issue of the Journal of Emergency Nursing.

CDC: Almost everyone needs a flu shot

20 hours ago

(HealthDay)—Less than half of all Americans got a flu shot last year, so U.S. health officials on Thursday urged that everyone 6 months and older get vaccinated for the coming flu season. "It's really unfortunate ...

User comments : 0