Cocaine use by pregnant women has reached epidemic proportions. Because of the effect of cocaine on the central nervous system, cocaine-exposed children are widely assumed to have long-term neurodevelopmental, language, and behavioral abnormalities, even though there are few data to support such claims. Our project will prospectively evaluate control and cocaine-exposed children for evidence of long term effects of central nervous system insult. Two cohorts of children, 123 control and 112 cocaine-exposed, enrolled in a prospective, longitudinal, blinded study since birth (NIDA#3-RO1-DA04965) will be followed from age 3-8 years. They will be evaluated every 6 months by psychologists blind to infant group status. Mental process variables (Test of Auditory Selective Attention, Goodman Lock Box), general development (Battelle Developmental Inventory), language development (Preschool Language Scale, Assessing Semantic Skills through Everyday Themes, Test of Problem Solving, and Test of Pragmatic Language) and intelligence (Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence) will be measured. Neurologic status will be evaluated by a pediatric neurologist when subjects are 5 years of age. School adjustment and achievement will be evaluated by utilization of the Conners' Teachers Rating Scale and the Kaufman Test of Educational Achievement. Further, post-natal environmental influence on the child will be assessed by utilization of the Parent/Caregiver Involvement Scale, and the Home Observation for Measurement of the Environment. Continued addiction in the mother will be assessed through administration of the Addiction Severity Index. Multivariate statistical analyses will be used in order to determine whether cocaine use during pregnancy poses an independent risk factor for adverse outcome. Identification of the presence or absence of long term effects of cocaine on children is crucial. If adverse effects do occur, educators and policy makers must be prepared. If neurodevelopmental outcome is normal, labeling of these children as disabled must cease.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
Research Project (R01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (SRCD (31))
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Albert Einstein Medical Center (Philadelphia)
United States
Zip Code
Hurt, H; Malmud, E; Betancourt, L M et al. (2001) A prospective comparison of developmental outcome of children with in utero cocaine exposure and controls using the Battelle Developmental Inventory. J Dev Behav Pediatr 22:27-34
Hurt, H; Malmud, E; Brodsky, N L et al. (2001) Exposure to violence: psychological and academic correlates in child witnesses. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med 155:1351-6
Betancourt, L; Fischer, R; Giannetta, J et al. (1999) Problem-solving ability of inner-city children with and without in utero cocaine exposure. J Dev Behav Pediatr 20:418-24
Hurt, H; Malmud, E; Braitman, L E et al. (1998) Inner-city achievers: who are they? Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med 152:993-7
Hurt, H; Malmud, E; Betancourt, L et al. (1997) Children with in utero cocaine exposure do not differ from control subjects on intelligence testing. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med 151:1237-41
Hurt, H; Malmud, E; Betancourt, L et al. (1997) A prospective evaluation of early language development in children with in utero cocaine exposure and in control subjects. J Pediatr 130:310-2
Hurt, H; Brodsky, N L; Betancourt, L et al. (1995) Cocaine-exposed children: follow-up through 30 months. J Dev Behav Pediatr 16:29-35
Hurt, H; Brodsky, N L; Braitman, L E et al. (1995) Natal status of infants of cocaine users and control subjects: a prospective comparison. J Perinatol 15:297-304