**NAE      Infant Drug Addiction/Prenatal Exposure

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How Does Cocaine Use During Pregnancy Affect Newborns?

Many babies exposed to cocaine are born too soon or too small, putting them at increased risk of life-long disabilities including

mental retardation, cerebral palsy, and visual and hearing impairment.

Babies whose mothers used cocaine during pregnancy often score poorly on tests given at birth to assess the newborn's

physical condition and overall responsiveness. They do not do as well as unexposed babies on measures of motor ability and

reflexes, attention and mood control, and they appear less likely to respond to a human face or voice.

Babies exposed to cocaine before birth also may have respiratory and neurological problems, including seizures, during the

newborn period. Beginning at birth, these babies go through something similar to "withdrawal" from the drug. Many are very jittery

and irritable, and startle and cry at the gentlest touch or sound. Consequently, these babies are very difficult to comfort and

often are described as withdrawn or unresponsive. Other cocaine-exposed babies "turn off" surrounding stimuli by going into a

deep sleep for most of the day. In either case, the baby's reaction to cocaine makes bonding between mother and baby difficult - and bonding is critical to a baby's emotional development.

For more information:

Dr. Ira Chasnoff

Children's Research Triangle.

(312) 362_1940


March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation



New York Online Access to Health


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