Crack Babies - Developmental Information

When reading about developmental delays and potential risk factors (alcohol, smoking) for developmental delays it made me think of some comments that I had heard that some of our students may be "crack babies". Some of their actions may be traced back to their mothers having used crack or cocaine during motherhood. I decided to investigate the effect of cocaine on the development of children assuming that I would find strong arguments for developmental delays being tied to the use of cocaine. What I found was far from my assumption.

- Other variables such as “mother’s nutrition, the environment, and the delivery date” have a larger effect on the baby over the

- Other drugs such as alcohol or cigarettes “have been determined to have an equal or greater detrimental impact on the newborn”.

- Parents in inner city are unfairly assumed to be the only users of cocaine or crack. They are more often reported to authorities for drug use, and are more often tested for drug use than middle class whites.

- There is no characteristic “crack baby”, and many factors affect the fetus including frequency of usage, quantity, location, and genetic-susceptibility towards cocaine.

- The majority of children does not show developmental issues, and “usually perform in the normal range on individual intelligence tests.”

- False belief that problems with the child are due to the drug use. Much more at hand with other environmental factors that can cause the children’s problems.

- Children exposed to cocaine or crack can fit normally into a classroom and do not need to be separated from other stimulus.

It is essential then that these children be treated as though they were normally developing children in the educational system. Certain symptoms by a child should not be assumed to be due to earlier drug exposure, and let administrators and teachers lose focus on helping the child as an individual. Behavior is affected by a great deal of factors and crack or cocaine is not a major effector of their behavior.

created by George Hughes-Strange.

Barone, D. (1994). Myths About "Crack Babies". Educational Leadership. Vol. 52 Issue 2, p67, 2p