Prenatal Cocaine Exposure Increases Risk of Higher Teen Drug Use

Last Updated: Friday, May 5, 2017
Young people who were exposed to crack cocaine while they were in the womb are more likely to use tobacco and marijuana by age 15, according to research from Case Western Reserve University.
In addition, they are twice as likely to develop a substance use disorder at 17 years old than their peers who were not exposed to crack while in the womb.
“When a child is exposed to cocaine in utero, they are more likely use substances more often and at earlier ages while having trouble controlling their behaviors and emotions, making them more susceptible to addiction themselves,” said Sonia Minnes, an associate professor at the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences at Case Western Reserve.
As lead researcher of Project Newborn, a National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded study that began in 1994, Minnes and her colleagues have followed the babies with prenatal cocaine-exposure from birth into emerging adulthood. Despite their higher rates of drug use, Minnes says they children are “doing better than expected as they enter adulthood.”
“You want to prevent the next generation from using drugs while pregnant, and this is powerful data that helps make this case,” Minnes said. “This project helps us better understand the many factors and pitfalls facing children whose mothers used drugs.” Read more.

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