Title

Prenatal exposure to cocaine and middle childhood outcomes

Date of Completion

January 2009

Keywords

Health Sciences, Toxicology|Education, Educational Psychology|Psychology, Cognitive

Degree

Ph.D.

Abstract

This study examined the effects of prenatal cocaine exposure on basic academic skills and planning ability of children in middle childhood. The effects of prenatal cocaine exposure on intelligence, language, and behavioral outcomes of children in early childhood have previously been the focus of much research. These studies have often resulted in ambiguous findings, leading to uncertainty in society and the scientific community as to whether prenatal cocaine exposure is detrimental. Subsequently, this inconclusiveness joined with the young age in many cohort groups from longitudinal prenatal cocaine exposure studies has resulted in scattered investigations concerning the long-term implications of prenatal cocaine exposure in middle childhood. This study examined the effects of prenatal cocaine exposure in middle childhood, a time in a child's development when it is theorized that children begin to more fully possess the prerequisite complex cognitive functioning necessary to complete principal academic tasks and engage in planning efficiently. The latent teratological impact of prenatal cocaine exposure on academic competence and planning ability could not be discriminated from the various ecological risk factors that may play an impressionable role during childhood development. This discovery adds to prior research on the gravity and constructive nature of certain ecological attributions in encouraging positive development for all children, irrespective of intrauterine substance exposure status. The findings further the view that the significance of PCE on child development beyond infancy is best scrutinized within the context of PCE as an additive hazard rather than a separate contributor capable of solely forcing negative developmental consequences. ^