Prenatal cocaine exposure

crack babycrack babiesborn with an addictioncocaine usage during pregnancyexposed to cocaine as fetusesfetal drug-use
Prenatal cocaine exposure (PCE), theorized in the 1970s, occurs when a pregnant woman uses cocaine and thereby exposes her fetus to the drug.wikipedia
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Cocaine

cokecocaine traffickingcrack
Prenatal cocaine exposure (PCE), theorized in the 1970s, occurs when a pregnant woman uses cocaine and thereby exposes her fetus to the drug.
Prenatal cocaine exposure

Project Prevention

Barbara HarrisCRACKIncentives for sterilization
One such initiative, Project Prevention, offers women addicted to cocaine money as an incentive to undergo long-term birth control or, frequently, sterilization—an approach which has led to public outcry from those who consider this practice to be eugenics.
With the experience of helping the children through withdrawal and other health problems, she tried to get legislation passed in California that would have mandated long-term birth control for mothers who gave birth to babies who were exposed to cocaine as fetuses.

Neonatal withdrawal

neonatal abstinence syndromeneonatal withdrawal syndromewithdrawal symptoms in the newborn
While newborns who were exposed prenatally to drugs such as barbiturates or heroin frequently have symptoms of drug withdrawal (neonatal abstinence syndrome), this does not happen with babies exposed to crack in utero; at least, such symptoms are difficult to separate in the context of other factors such as prematurity or prenatal exposure to other drugs.
Neonatal abstinence syndrome does not happen in prenatal cocaine exposure.

Pregnancy

pregnantfirst trimesterpregnant women
In South Carolina, a woman who used crack in her third trimester of pregnancy was sentenced to prison for eight years when her child was born with cocaine metabolites in its system.
Prenatal cocaine exposure is associated with premature birth, birth defects and attention deficit disorder.

Fetus

fetalfoetusfetuses
Prenatal cocaine exposure (PCE), theorized in the 1970s, occurs when a pregnant woman uses cocaine and thereby exposes her fetus to the drug.

Drug

drugsagentserum
Prenatal cocaine exposure (PCE), theorized in the 1970s, occurs when a pregnant woman uses cocaine and thereby exposes her fetus to the drug.

Crack cocaine

crackcrack-cocainecrack pipe
"Crack baby" was a term coined to describe children who were exposed to crack (freebase cocaine in smokable form) as fetuses; the concept of the crack baby emerged in the US during the 1980s and 1990s in the midst of a crack epidemic.

Free base

freebasingfreebasefree-base
"Crack baby" was a term coined to describe children who were exposed to crack (freebase cocaine in smokable form) as fetuses; the concept of the crack baby emerged in the US during the 1980s and 1990s in the midst of a crack epidemic.

Crack epidemic

crack cocaine epidemiccrack boom86 crack blitz
"Crack baby" was a term coined to describe children who were exposed to crack (freebase cocaine in smokable form) as fetuses; the concept of the crack baby emerged in the US during the 1980s and 1990s in the midst of a crack epidemic. During 1980s and 1990s, there was a surge in use of crack cocaine in US cities: the crack epidemic.

In utero

unborn childuteroin the uterus
Early studies reported that people who had been exposed to crack in utero would be severely emotionally, mentally, and physically disabled; this belief became common in the scientific and lay communities.

Sample size determination

meadsample sizeSampling sizes
Fears were widespread that a generation of crack babies were going to put severe strain on society and social services as they grew up. Later studies failed to substantiate the findings of earlier ones that PCE has severe disabling consequences; these earlier studies had been methodologically flawed (e.g. with small sample sizes and confounding factors). These early studies had methodological problems including small sample size, confounding factors like poor nutrition, and use of other drugs by the mothers.

Cocaine in the United States

American drug-using communitycocainecocaine in US
During 1980s and 1990s, there was a surge in use of crack cocaine in US cities: the crack epidemic.

Nutrition

nutritionalnutrition sciencenutritional science
These early studies had methodological problems including small sample size, confounding factors like poor nutrition, and use of other drugs by the mothers.

War on drugs

counter-narcoticsdrug interdictiondrug war
However, the results of the studies sparked widespread media discussion in the context of the new War on Drugs.

Disability

disabilitiesdisabledhandicapped
Babies exposed to crack in utero were written off as doomed to be severely disabled, and many were abandoned in hospitals.

Charles Krauthammer

Charles Krauthammer, a columnist for The Washington Post wrote in 1989, "[t]heirs will be a life of certain suffering, of probable deviance, of permanent inferiority."

The Washington Post

Washington Postwashingtonpost.comThe Washington Post Book World
Charles Krauthammer, a columnist for The Washington Post wrote in 1989, "[t]heirs will be a life of certain suffering, of probable deviance, of permanent inferiority."

Boston University

BUBostonBoston U.
The president of Boston University at the time, John Silber, said "crack babies ... won't ever achieve the intellectual development to have consciousness of God."

John Silber

Silber WayPresident John Silber
The president of Boston University at the time, John Silber, said "crack babies ... won't ever achieve the intellectual development to have consciousness of God."

Social class

classsocial classesclasses
These claims of biological inferiority played easily into existing class and racial biases.

Racism

racistracial prejudiceracial discrimination
These claims of biological inferiority played easily into existing class and racial biases.

Sensationalism

sensationalistsensationalisticsensational
Reporting was often sensational, favoring the direst predictions and shutting out skeptics.

Publication bias

self-selecting nature of the positive reportsfile drawer effectfar more likely to be published than ones which do not
Reporting on the effects of PCE may have been affected by publication bias, a disproportionate publication of studies indicating more severe outcomes as the crack epidemic emerged.

Bipolar disorder

bipolarmanic depressionmanic depressive
At the time, the proposed mechanism by which cocaine harmed fetuses was as a stimulant—it was predicted that cocaine would disrupt normal development of parts of the brain that dealt with stimulation, resulting in problems like bipolar disorder and attention deficit disorder.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

ADHDattention deficit disorderhyperactivity
At the time, the proposed mechanism by which cocaine harmed fetuses was as a stimulant—it was predicted that cocaine would disrupt normal development of parts of the brain that dealt with stimulation, resulting in problems like bipolar disorder and attention deficit disorder. However, PCE is associated with premature birth, birth defects, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and other conditions.