Methamphetamine (MA) use among pregnant women is an increasing problem in the United States. How MA use during pregnancy affects neonatal and infant neurobehavior is unknown.
The Infant Development, Environment, and Lifestyle (IDEAL) study screened 34,833 subjects at 4 clinical centers. 17,961 were eligible and 3,705 were consented, among which 412 were enrolled for longitudinal follow-up. Exposed subjects were identified by self-report and/or GC/MS confirmation of amphetamine and metabolites in meconium. Comparison subjects were matched (race, birth weight, maternal education, insurance), denied amphetamine use and had a negative meconium screen. Both groups included prenatal alcohol, tobacco and marijuana use, but excluded use of opiates, lysergic acid diethylamide, or phencyclidine. The NICU Network Neurobehavioral Scale (NNNS) was administered within the first 5 days of life and again at one month to 380 enrollees (185 exposed, 195 comparison). ANOVA tested exposure effects on NNNS summary scores at birth and one month. GLM repeated measures analysis assessed the effect of MA exposure over time on the NNNS scores with and without covariates.
By one month of age, both groups demonstrated higher quality of movement (P=.029), less lethargy (P=.001), and fewer asymmetric reflexes (P=.012), with no significant differences in NNNS scores between the exposed and comparison groups. Over the first month of life, arousal increased in exposed infants but decreased in comparison infants (p=.031) and total stress was decreased in exposed infants with no change in comparison infants (p=.026).
Improvement in total stress and arousal were observed in MA-exposed newborns by one month of age relative to the newborn period.
To examine the autonomic nervous system and neurobehavioral response to a sustained visual attention challenge among 1-month old infants with prenatal substance exposure.
We measured heart rate (HR), respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA), and neurobehavior during sustained visual orientation tasks included in the NICU Network Neurobehavioral Scale (NNNS) in 1,129, 1-month infants with prenatal substance exposure. Four groups were compared: infants with prenatal cocaine and opiate exposure, infants with cocaine exposure, infants with opiate exposure, and infants with exposure to other substances (i.e. alcohol, marijuana, and tobacco).
Infants with prenatal cocaine and opiate exposure had the highest HRs and lowest levels of RSA during a sustained visual attention procedure compared with the other three groups. Infants with prenatal cocaine and opiate exposure had poorer quality of movement and more hypertonicity during the NNNS exam compared with the other three exposure groups. Infants with prenatal cocaine and opiate exposure had more nonoptimal reflexes and stress/abstinence signs compared with infants with prenatal cocaine exposure only and infants with prenatal exposure to alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana.
Problems with arousal regulation were identified among infants with prenatal substance exposure. Autonomic dysregulation has been implicated as a mechanism by which these difficulties occur. Our results suggest that infants with both prenatal cocaine and opiate exposure have the greatest autonomic response to the challenge of a sustained visual attention task, which may place these infants at risk for developing problems associated with physiological and behavioral regulation, a necessary prerequisite for early learning.
in utero drug exposure; physiology; neurobehavioral
Methamphetamine use is a growing problem among pregnant women in the United States. Many negative consequences of methamphetamine use have been documented for the users, but little research has examined the long-term association between prenatal methamphetamine exposure (PME) and childhood outcomes. The current study examined the extent to which PME was predictive of childhood neurobehavioral disinhibition (ND), as well as the extent to which early adversity mediated this relationship. A sample of 320 mother–infant dyads (162 PME) was followed from birth through 6.5 years of age. ND was conceptualized as a two factor model consisting of deficits in (a) behavioral and emotional control, and (b) executive function. PME was associated with behavioral and emotional control at 5 years, which was associated with executive function deficits at 6.5 years. Early adversity (birth through year 3) significantly mediated the relationship between PME and ND. Associations with previous research and implications for prevention are discussed.
methamphetamine; prenatal; adversity; disinhibition
The relation between prenatal cocaine exposure and quality of movement was studied at 4 mo using the Posture and Fine Motor Assessment of Infants (PFMAI–I).
Posture and fine motor scores of 4-month-old infants exposed to cocaine in utero (n = 370) were compared with an unexposed group (n = 533) within the context of gestational age, medical and demographic characteristics, and level of prenatal substance exposure using the PFMAI–I.
Infants prenatally exposed to cocaine had significantly lower posture scores than infants in the unexposed group. There was no main effect of cocaine exposure on fine motor scores; however, there were independent effects of gestational age at birth on both posture and fine motor scores at 4-mo corrected age.
These findings demonstrate independent contributions of prenatal cocaine exposure and prematurity to risk of motor delay and support the validity of the PFMAI–I as a measure of motor competence in early infancy.
child development; cocaine-related disorders; motor skills; posture; prenatal exposure delayed effects
High-risk environments characterized by familial substance use, poverty, inadequate parental monitoring, and violence exposure are associated with an increased propensity for adolescents to engage in risk-taking behaviors (e.g., substance use, sexual behavior, and delinquency). However, additional factors such as drug exposure in utero and deficits in inhibitory control among drug-exposed youth may further influence the likelihood that adolescents in high-risk environments will engage in risk-taking behavior. This study examined the influence of prenatal substance exposure, inhibitory control, and sociodemographic/environmental risk factors on risk-taking behaviors in a large cohort of adolescents with and without prenatal cocaine exposure (PCE).
Risk-taking behavior (delinquency, substance use, and sexual activity) was assessed in 963 adolescents (433 cocaine-exposed, 530 nonexposed) at 15 years of age.
PCE predicted later arrests and early onset of sexual behavior in controlled analyses. Associations were partially mediated, however, by adolescent inhibitory control problems. PCE was not associated with substance use at this age. In addition, male gender, low parental involvement, and violence exposure were associated with greater odds of engaging in risk-taking behavior across the observed domains.
Study findings substantiate concern regarding the association between prenatal substance exposure and related risk factors and the long-term outcomes of exposed youth. Access to the appropriate social, educational, and medical services are essential in preventing and intervening with risk-taking behaviors and the potential consequences (e.g., adverse health outcomes, incarceration), especially among high-risk adolescent youth and their families.
prenatal drug exposure; cocaine; adolescence; risk-taking behavior
We employed latent growth curve analysis to examine trajectories of respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA) from 3 to 6 years among children with varying levels of prenatal substance exposure and early adversity. Data were drawn from a prospective longitudinal study of prenatal substance exposure that included 1,121 participants. Baseline RSA and RSA reactivity to an attention-demanding task were assessed at 3, 4, 5, and 6 years. Overall, there were significant individual differences in the trajectories of RSA reactivity, but not baseline RSA, across development. Greater levels of prenatal substance exposure, and less exposure to early adversity, were associated with increased RSA reactivity at 3 years, but by 6 years, both were associated with greater RSA reactivity. Prenatal substance exposure had an indirect influence through early adversity on growth in RSA reactivity. Results are in support of and contribute to the framework of allostatic load.
allostatic load; prenatal substance exposure; early adversity; respiratory sinus arrhythmia
We evaluated whether living arrangements of children with or without prenatal drug exposure would be associated with their behavior outcomes and adaptive functioning.
1388 children with or without prenatal cocaine or opiate exposure were enrolled in a longitudinal cohort study at one month of age, were seen at intervals, tracked over time for their living situation, and evaluated for behavior problems and adaptive functioning at three years of age. Child Behavior Check List and Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales (VABS) were administered. Using multiple regression models, we determined the factors that would predict behavior problems and adaptive functioning.
1,092 children were evaluated. Total and externalizing behavior problems T scores of children in relative care were lower (better) than those in parental; externalizing behavior scores were lower than those in non-relative care (p<0.05). Total behavior problem scores increased 2.3 and 1.3 points respectively with each move/year and each year of Child Protective Services’ involvement. Compared to children in non-relative care, those in parental or relative care had higher (better) scores in the VABS total composite (p<0.023), communication (p<0.045), and daily living (p<0.001). Each caretaker change was associated with a decrease of 2.65 and 2.19 points respectively in communication and daily living scores.
Children’s living arrangements were significantly associated with childhood behavior problems and adaptive functioning. The instability of living situation was also a significant predictor of these outcomes. While family preservation continues to be the goal of the child welfare system, expediting decision toward permanency remains paramount once children are placed in foster care.
Prenatal cocaine; prenatal opiate; out-of-home-care; child behavior
This study compared patterns of prenatal care among mothers who used methamphetamine (MA) during pregnancy and non-using mothers in the US and New Zealand (NZ), and evaluated associations among maternal drug use, child protective services (CPS) referral, and inadequate prenatal care in both countries. The sample consisted of 182 mothers in the MA-Exposed and 196 in the Comparison groups in the US, and 107 mothers in the MA-Exposed and 112 in the Comparison groups in NZ. Positive toxicology results and/or maternal report of MA use during pregnancy were used to identify MA use. Information about sociodemographics, prenatal care and prenatal substance use was collected by maternal interview. MA-use during pregnancy is associated with lower socio-economic status, single marital status, and CPS referral in both NZ and the US. Compared to their non-using counterparts, MA-using mothers in the US had significantly higher rates of inadequate prenatal care. No association was found between inadequate care and MA-use in NZ. In the US, inadequate prenatal care was associated with CPS referral, but not in NZ. Referral to CPS for drug use only composed 40 % of all referrals in the US, but only 15 % of referrals in NZ. In our study population, prenatal MA-use and CPS referral eclipse maternal sociodemographics in explanatory power for inadequate prenatal care. The predominant effect of CPS referral in the US is especially interesting, and should encourage further research on whether the US policy of mandatory reporting discourages drug-using mothers from seeking antenatal care.
Methamphetamine; Adequate prenatal care; New Zealand; Kessner Index; Child protective services
Methamphetamine (MA) abuse is a worldwide problem. Little is known about the co-morbidity of substance use disorders (SUD) and other psychiatric disorders of mothers who use MA prenatally. The Infant Development, Environment and Lifestyle (IDEAL) Study is a prospective, investigation of prenatal MA use and child outcome in the United States (US) and New Zealand (NZ). This study examined prenatal MA use and the co-morbidity of SUD and psychiatric disorders at 1-month postpartum.
Mothers who used MA (US = 127, NZ = 97) were compared to a matched comparison group (US = 193, NZ = 110). The Substance Abuse Subtle Screening Inventory-3 was used to measure the probability of a SUD. The Brief Symptom Inventory was used to measure the likelihood of a positive diagnosis of a psychiatric disorder.
In US and NZ, the MA groups had lower SES, increased single parenting, delayed prenatal care, increased polydrug use. In the US only, MA mothers had lower income than the comparison group. MA users were 10 times more likely to have a SUD and twice as likely to meet Brief Symptom Inventory criteria for a diagnosable psychiatric disorder. In NZ, but not the US, MA users were five times more likely have co-morbidity of both. This disparity may be due to higher quantities of prenatal alcohol use associated with increased psychiatric symptoms.
These findings suggest that addressing both substance abuse and psychiatric disorders in mothers who use MA may be required to effectively treat maternal MA use.
Methamphetamine; Maternal Drug Use; Comorbidity; Substance Use Disorder; Psychiatric Disorder
This study investigated the prospective association between prenatal methamphetamine (MA) exposure and child behavioral problems at 5 years while also examining the home environment at 30 months and several primary caregiver (PC) risk factors. Participants were 97 MA-exposed and 117 comparison children and their PCs enrolled in the Infant Development, Environment and Lifestyle Study. Hypotheses were that child behaviors would be adversely impacted by (a) prenatal MA exposure, (b) home environments that provided less developmental stimulation and emotional responsiveness to the child, and (c) the presence of PC psychological symptoms and other risk factors. Prenatal MA exposure was associated with child externalizing behavioral problems at 5 years. Home environments that were more conducive to meeting children’s developmental and emotional needs were associated with fewer internalizing and externalizing behavioral problems. Independent of prenatal MA exposure, PC parenting stress and psychological symptoms were associated with increased child behavioral problems. Findings suggest prenatal MA exposure may contribute to externalizing behavioral problems in early childhood and the importance of considering possible vulnerabilities related to prenatal MA exposure in the context of the child’s caregiving environment.
infants; children; pregnant women; methamphetamine use; prenatal substance exposure; primary caregiver; caregiving environment; parenting stress
The purpose of this study is to assess for increased risk of attention deficit hyperactivity problem in young children with prenatal methamphetamine exposure from the multicenter, longitudinal Infant Development, Environment, and Lifestyle (IDEAL) study.
IDEAL enrolled 412 mother-infant pairs at four sites (Tulsa, OK; Des Moines, IA; Los Angeles, CA; and Honolulu, HI). Methamphetamine exposed subjects (n=204) were identified by self-report and/or gas chromatography/mass spectrometry confirmation of amphetamine and metabolites in infant meconium. Matched subjects (n=208) denied methamphetamine use and had a negative meconium screen. This analysis includes a subsample of 301 subjects that were administered the Conners’ Kiddie Continuous Performance Test (K-CPT) at age 5.5 years (153 exposed, 148 comparison). Hierarchical linear models adjusted for covariates tested exposure effects on K-CPT measures. Using the same covariates, logistic regression was used to determine the effect of exposure on the incidence of a positive ADHD confidence index score, defined as greater than 50%.
There were no differences between the groups in omission or commission errors or reaction time for correct trials. However, methamphetamine exposure was associated with subtle differences in other outcomes predictive of ADHD, including increased slope of reaction time across blocks (p<0.001), increased variability in reaction time with longer interstimulus intervals (p<0.01), and increased likelihood of greater than 50% on the ADHD confidence index (OR 3.1, 95% CI 1.2–7.8; p=0.02).
Prenatal methamphetamine exposure was associated with subtle differences in K-CPT scores at age 5.5 years. Even at this relatively young age, these children exhibit indicators of risk for ADHD and warrant monitoring.
We determined the role of risk and protective factors on the trajectories of behavior problems associated with high prenatal cocaine exposure (PCE)/polydrug exposure.
The Maternal Lifestyle Study enrolled 1388 children with or without PCE, assessed through age 15 years. Because most women using cocaine during pregnancy also used other substances, we analyzed for the effects of 4 categories of prenatal drug exposure: high PCE/other drugs (OD), some PCE/OD, OD/no PCE, and no PCE/no OD. Risks and protective factors at individual, family, and community levels that may be associated with behavior outcomes were entered stepwise into latent growth curve models, then replaced by cumulative risk and protective indexes, and finally by a combination of levels of risk and protective indexes. Main outcome measures were the trajectories of externalizing, internalizing, total behavior, and attention problems scores from the Child Behavior Checklist (parent).
A total of 1022 (73.6%) children had known outcomes. High PCE/OD significantly predicted externalizing, total, and attention problems when considering the balance between risk and protective indexes. Some PCE/OD predicted externalizing and attention problems. OD/no PCE also predicted behavior outcomes except for internalizing behavior. High level of protective factors was associated with declining trajectories of problem behavior scores over time, independent of drug exposure and risk index scores.
High PCE/OD is a significant risk for behavior problems in adolescence; protective factors may attenuate its detrimental effects. Clinical practice and public health policies should consider enhancing protective factors while minimizing risks to improve outcomes of drug-exposed children.
behavior problems; cumulative risks; prenatal cocaine exposure; protective factors
The present study was designed to examine parenting stress, maternal depressive symptoms, and perceived child behavior problems among mothers who used methamphetamine (MA) during pregnancy. Participants were a subsample (n = 212; 75 exposed, 137 comparison) of biological mothers who had continuous custody of their child from birth to 36 months. The subsample was drawn from a larger, ongoing longitudinal study on the effects of prenatal methamphetamine exposure (n = 412; 204 exposed, 208 comparison) (Arria et al in Matern Child Health J 10:293–302 2006). Mothers who used MA during pregnancy reported more parenting stress and more depressive symptoms than a matched comparison group. There were no differences between groups on perceived child behavior problems. In a hierarchical linear model, depressive symptoms, and perceived child behavior problems, but not MA exposure, were statistically significant predictors of parenting stress. Screening for potential parenting problems among mothers with a history of substance abuse is warranted. Parenting interventions targeting depressive symptoms, parenting stress, and child behavior problems are needed for this population.
Parenting stress; Prenatal drug exposure; Methamphetamine; Child behavior problems; Maternal depression
In previous work we (Fisher et al., 2011) examined the emergence of neurobehavioral disinhibition (ND) in adolescents with prenatal substance exposure. We computed ND factor scores at three age points (8/9, 11 and 13/14 years) and found that both prenatal substance exposure and early adversity predicted ND. The purpose of the current study was to determine the association between these ND scores and initiation of substance use between ages 8–16 in this cohort as early initiation of substance use has been related to later substance use disorders. Our hypothesis was that prenatal cocaine exposure predisposes the child to ND, which, in turn, is associated with initiation of substance use by age 16.
We studied 386 cocaine exposed and 517 unexposed children followed since birth in a longitudinal study. Five dichotomous variables were computed based on the subject’s report of substance use: alcohol only; tobacco only; marijuana only; illicit substances and any substance.
Cox proportional hazard regression showed that the 8/9 year ND score was related to initiation of alcohol, tobacco, illicit and any substance use but not marijuana use. The trajectory of ND across the three age periods was related to substance use initiation in all five substance use categories. Prenatal cocaine exposure, although initially related to tobacco, marijuana and illicit substance initiation, was no longer significant with ND scores in the models.
Prenatal drug exposure appears to be a risk pathway to ND, which by 8/9 years portends substance use initiation.
neurodevelopmental disinhibition; substance use initiation; prenatal cocaine exposure
To examine the association between prenatal methamphetamine exposure and inhibitory control in 66 month old children followed since birth in the multicenter, longitudinal Infant Development, Environment and Lifestyle Study.
The sample included 137 children with prenatal methamphetamine exposure and 130 comparison children, matched for race, birth weight, maternal education and type of insurance. Inhibitory control, an executive function related to emotional and cognitive control, was assessed using a computerized Stroop-like task developed for young children. Hierarchical linear modeling tested the relationship between the extent (heavy, some and no use) of prenatal methamphetamine exposure and accuracy and reaction time outcomes, adjusting for prenatal exposure to alcohol, tobacco and marijuana, age, sex, socioeconomic status, caregiver IQ and psychological symptoms, child protective services report of physical or sexual abuse, and site.
In adjusted analyses, heavy prenatal methamphetamine exposure was related to reduced accuracy in both the incongruent and mixed conditions on the Stroop task. Caregiver psychological symptoms and Child Protective Services (CPS) report of physical or sexual abuse were associated with reduced accuracy in the incongruent and mixed, and incongruent conditions, respectively.
Heavy prenatal methamphetamine exposure, along with caregiver psychological distress and child maltreatment, is related to subtle deficits in inhibitory control during the early school-aged years.
Prenatal exposure; Amphetamines; Children; Neuropsychology; Executive Function
The impact of maternal substance abuse is reflected in the 2002–2003 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Among pregnant women in the 15–44 age group, 4.3%, 18% and 9.8% used illicit drugs, tobacco and alcohol, respectively. Maternal pregnancy complications following substance use include increases in sexually transmitted disorders, placental abruption and HIV-positive status. Effects on the neonate include a decrease in growth parameters and increases in central nervous system and autonomic nervous system signs and in referrals to child protective agencies. In childhood, behavioral and cognitive effects are seen after prenatal cocaine exposure; tobacco and alcohol have separate and specific effects. The ongoing use of alcohol and tobacco by the caretaker affects childhood behavior. Therefore, efforts should be made to prevent and treat behavioral problems as well as to limit the onset of drug use by adolescent children born to women who use drugs during pregnancy.
Alcohol; Child medicine; Cocaine; Neonatal; Neurobehavioral outcome; Polydrug use; Tobacco
Maternal depression is associated with a higher incidence of behavioral problems in infants, but the effects of maternal depression as early as 1 month are not well characterized. The objective of this study is to determine the neurobehavioral effects of maternal depression on infants exposed and not exposed to methamphetamine (MA) using the NICU Network Neurobehavioral Scale (NNNS).
Four hundred twelve mother–infant pairs were enrolled (MA = 204) and only biological mothers with custody of their child were included in the current analysis. At the 1-month visit (n = 126 MA-exposed; n = 193 MA-unexposed), the Beck Depression Inventory-II (BDI-II) was administered, and the NNNS was administered to the infant. Exposure was identified by self-report and/or gas chromatography/mass spectroscopy confirmation of amphetamine and metabolites in newborn meconium. Unexposed subjects were matched, denied amphetamine use, and had negative meconium screens. General Linear Models tested the effects of maternal depression and prenatal MA exposure on NNNS, with significance accepted at P < .05.
The MA group had an increased incidence of depression-positive diagnosis and increased depression scores on the BDI-II. After adjusting for covariates, MA exposure was associated with increased arousal and handling scores, and a decreased ability to self-regulate. Maternal depression was associated with higher autonomic stress and poorer quality of movement. No additional differences were observed in infants whose mothers were both depressed and used MA during pregnancy.
Maternal depression is associated with neurodevelopmental patterns of increased stress and decreased quality of movement, suggesting maternal depression influences neurodevelopment in infants as young as 1 month.
amphetamine; drug; antenatal
Examine maternal and infant medical outcomes of prenatal exposure to methamphetamine (MA).
Four hundred and twelve mother-infant pairs (204 MA-exposed and 208 unexposed matched comparisons) were enrolled in the Infant Development, Environment and Lifestyle (IDEAL) study. Exposure was determined by maternal self-report during this pregnancy and/or positive meconium toxicology. Maternal interviews assessed prenatal drug use, pregnancy course, and sociodemographic information. Medical chart reviews provided medical history, obstetric complications, infant outcomes, and discharge placement.
MA-using mothers were more likely to be poor, to have a psychiatric disorder/emotional illness and less prenatal care, and to be less likely to breast-feed their infant than comparison mothers. After adjusting for covariates, MA-exposed infants were more likely to exhibit poor suck, to have smaller head circumferences and length, to require neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) admission, and to be referred to child protective services (CPS). Several outcomes previously reported from studies that lacked adequate control groups or adjustment for covariates were not significantly different in this study.
Prenatal MA exposure is associated with maternal psychiatric disorder/emotional illness, poor suck, NICU admission, and CPS involvement, and MA-exposed infants were less likely to be breast-fed; however, the absence of many serious complications, such as fetal distress, chronic hypertension, preeclampsia, placenta previa, abruptio placentae, and cardiac defects, suggests confounding variables influenced prior studies.
amphetamine; methamphetamine; drug; antenatal; neonate
We examined the effects of prenatal methamphetamine (MA) exposure on growth parameters from birth to age 3 years. The 412 subjects included (n = 204 exposed) were enrolled at birth in the Infant Development, Environment and Lifestyle study, a longitudinal study assessing the effects of prenatal MA exposure on childhood outcomes. Individual models were used to examine the effects of prenatal MA exposure on weight, head circumference, height, and weight-for-length growth trajectories. After adjusting for covariates, height trajectory was lower in the exposed versus the comparison children (p = 0.021) over the first 3 years of life. Both groups increased height on average by 2.27 cm per month by age 3 years. In term subjects, MA exposure was also associated with a lower height trajectory (p = 0.034), with both the exposed and comparison groups gaining 2.25 cm per month by age 3 years. There was no difference in weight, head circumference, or weight-for-length growth trajectories between the comparison and the exposed groups. Children exposed prenatally to MA have a modest decrease in height growth trajectory during the first 3 years of life with no observed difference in weight, head circumference, or weight-for-length trajectories.
height; antenatal; drug; amphetamine
Prenatal cocaine exposure (PCE) is associated with blunted stress responsivity within the extrauterine environment. This study investigated the association between PCE and diurnal salivary cortisol levels in preadolescent children characterized by high biological and/or social risk (N = 725). Saliva samples were collected at their home. Analyses revealed no group differences in basal evening or morning cortisol levels; however, children with higher degrees of PCE exhibited blunted overnight increases in cortisol, controlling for additional risk factors. Race and caregiver depression were also associated with diurnal cortisol patterns. While repeated PCE may contribute to alterations in the normal or expected stress response later in life, sociodemographic and environmental factors are likewise important in understanding hormone physiology, especially as more time elapses from the PCE. Anticipating the potential long-term medical, developmental, or behavioral effects of an altered ability to mount a normal protective cortisol stress response is essential in optimizing the outcomes of children with PCE.
This study evaluated how enrollment in special education services in 11 year old children relates to prenatal cocaine exposure, psychopathology, and other risk factors.
Participants were 498 children enrolled in The Maternal Lifestyle Study, a prospective, longitudinal, multisite study examining outcomes of children with prenatal cocaine exposure. Logistic regression was used to examine the effect of prenatal cocaine exposure and psychopathology on enrollment in an individualized education plan (a designation specific to children with special education needs), with environmental, maternal, and infant medical variables as covariates.
Prenatal cocaine exposure, an interaction of prenatal cocaine exposure and Oppositional Defiant Disorder, child Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, parent-reported internalizing behaviors, and teacher-reported externalizing behaviors, predicted enrollment in an individualized education plan. Other statistically significant variables in the model were male gender, low birth weight, being small for gestational age, white race, caregiver change, low socio-economic status, low child intelligence quotient, caregiver depression, and prenatal marijuana exposure.
Prenatal cocaine exposure increased the likelihood of receiving an individualized education plan with adjustment for covariates. Psychopathology also predicted this special education outcome, in combination with and independent of prenatal cocaine exposure.
cocaine; special education; behavior; prenatal substance exposure
We evaluated behavior problems in children who were prenatally exposed to methamphetamine (MA) at ages 3 and 5 years.
The Infant Development, Environment, and Lifestyle study, a prospective, longitudinal study of prenatal MA exposure and child outcome, enrolled subjects postpartum in Los Angeles, California; Honolulu, Hawaii; Des Moines, Iowa; and Tulsa, Oklahoma. Prenatal exposure was determined by maternal self-report and/or meconium results. Exposed and comparison groups were matched on race, birth weight, public health insurance, and education. Mothers in the comparison group denied use and had a negative meconium screen for amphetamines. Prenatal exposures to tobacco, alcohol, or marijuana occurred in both groups. At ages 3 and 5 years, 330 children (166 exposed and 164 comparison) were assessed for behavior problems by using the caregiver report on the Child Behavior Checklist. General linear mixed models were used to determine the effects of prenatal MA exposure, including heavy exposure (≥3 days per week), age, and the interaction of exposure and age on behavior problems with adjustment for other drugs of abuse and environmental risk factors.
MA exposure was associated with increased emotional reactivity and anxious/depressed problems at both ages and externalizing and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder problems by age 5 years. Heavy exposure was related to attention problems and withdrawn behavior at both ages. There were no effects of MA on the internalizing or total behavior problems scales.
This first report of behavior problems in patients as young as 3 years associated with MA exposure identifies an important public health problem. Continued follow-up can inform the development of preventive intervention programs.
amphetamines; behavior disorders/problems; children; methamphetamine; prenatal exposure
The negative effects of prenatal substance exposure on neurobiological and psychological development and of early adversity are clear, but little is known about their combined effects. In this study, multilevel analyses of the effects of prenatal substance exposure and early adversity on the emergence of neurobehavioral disinhibition in adolescence were conducted. Neurobehavioral disinhibition has previously been observed to occur frequently in multiproblem youth from high-risk backgrounds. In the present study, neurobehavioral disinhibition was assessed via behavioral dysregulation and poor executive function composite measures. Data were drawn from a prospective longitudinal investigation of prenatal substance exposure that included 1073 participants followed from birth through adolescence. The results from latent growth modeling analyses showed mean stability but significant individual differences in behavioral dysregulation and mean decline with individual differences in executive function difficulties. Prior behavioral dysregulation predicted increased executive function difficulties. Prenatal drug use predicted the emergence and growth in neurobehavioral disinhibition across adolescence (directly for behavioral dysregulation and indirectly for executive function difficulties via early adversity and behavioral dysregulation). Prenatal drug use and early adversity exhibited unique effects on growth in behavioral dysregulation; early adversity uniquely predicted executive function difficulties. These results are discussed in terms of implications for theory development, social policy, and prevention science.
To examine screening results obtained by serial annual behavioral assessment of children with prenatal drug exposure.
The Maternal Lifestyle Study enrolled children with prenatal cocaine exposure (PCE) at birth for longitudinal assessments of developmental, behavioral, and health outcomes. At 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12 years of age, caregivers rated participants on the Pediatric Symptom Checklist (PSC). Serial PSC results were compared to an established broad-based behavioral measure at 9, 11, and 13 years. PSC results were analyzed for 1,081 children who had at least 2 annual screens during the 5-year time span. Most subjects (87%) had 4 or more annual screens rated by the same caregiver (80%). PSC scores (and Positive screens) over time were compared at different time points for those with and without PCE. Covariates, including demographic factors and exposures to certain other substances, were controlled.
Children with PCE had significantly higher scores overall, with more Positive screens for behavior problems than children without PCE. Children with PCE had more externalizing behavior problems. Children exposed to tobacco pre- and post-natally also showed higher PSC scores. Over time, PSC scores differed slightly from the 8-year scores, without clear directional trend. Earlier PSC results predicted later behavioral outcomes.
Findings of increased total PSC scores and Positive PSC screens for behavioral concerns in this group of children with prenatal substance exposure support the growing body of evidence that additional attention to identification of mental health problems may be warranted in this high-risk group.
Behavior disorder; child behavior; mental health; screening; prenatal cocaine exposure; Pediatric Symptom Checklist
Little is known about the association between prenatal cocaine exposure and obesity. We tested whether prenatal cocaine exposure increases the likelihood of obesity in 561 9-year-old term children from the Maternal Lifestyle Study (MLS). Overall, 21.6% of children met criterion for obesity (body mass index [BMI] ≥ 95th percentile, age and sex-specific). While there was no overall cocaine effect on obesity, multivariate logistic analysis revealed that children exposed to cocaine but not alcohol were 4 times more likely to be obese (OR 4.11, CI 2.04–9.76) than children not exposed to either drug. No increase in obesity prevalence was found in children exposed to alcohol but not cocaine (OR 1.08, CI .59–1.93) or both (OR 1.21, CI 0.66–2.22). Alcohol exposure may attenuate the effect of cocaine exposure on obesity. Increased obesity associated with cocaine but not alcohol exposure was first observed at 7 years. BMI was also elevated from 3 to 9 years in children exposed to cocaine but not alcohol, due to increasing weight but normal height. Prenatal exposure to cocaine may alter the neuroendocrine system and metabolic processes resulting in increased weight gain and childhood obesity.
Prenatal cocaine exposure; prenatal alcohol exposure; childhood obesity; growth; fetal origins