A preliminary report of prenatal cocaine exposure and respiratory distress syndrome in premature infants
Studies have indicated that premature infants born to women using heroin have a low rate of respiratory distress syndrome (RDS). Cocaine is now a more commonly abused drug among pregnant women. Adverse effects of prenatal exposure to cocaine on newborns have been reported, but the frequency of RDS among exposed premature infants has not been well studied. During a study of maternal drug use, the incidence of RDS in 33 premature infants was evaluated. The average gestational age of the newborns was 31 weeks, and the average weight was 3.4 pounds. Fourteen infants had RDS. Eight of the mothers used cocaine during pregnancy; they tended to be younger and to smoke cigarettes more often than other mothers. Birth weight and gestational age of cocaine-exposed newborns did not differ significantly from the other newborns. Significantly fewer cocaine-exposed infants had RDS; 12 percent (one of eight infants) compared with 56 percent who were not exposed to cocaine prenatally (13 of 25 infants). Factors such as race, gender, and gestational age did not influence the significance of this finding. RDS is caused by a lack of surfactant, a fatty detergent in lining of the lungs needed for normal lung function. There are several mechanisms by which cocaine may accelerate fetal lung maturation, thereby decreasing RDS incidence in exposed newborns. (Consumer Summary produced by Reliance Medical Information, Inc.)
Publication Name: American Journal of Diseases of Children
Effects of maternal marijuana and cocaine use on fetal growth
The use of marijuana and cocaine is less likely to be reported by pregnant women than alcohol use and cigarette smoking. The effect of these illegal drugs on fetal growth is unclear, due to the lack of reported use. Prenatal urine analysis and patient interviews revealed that 27 percent of a group of 1,226 mothers used marijuana, while 18 percent used cocaine. Urinalysis alone detected 16 percent of the marijuana users and 9 percent of the cocaine users. Interview alone revealed a 23 percent marijuana use and 13 percent cocaine use. Infants born to mothers who used marijuana during pregnancy weighed an average of 79 grams less and were an average of a half a centimeter shorter than those born to mothers testing negative. Infants born to cocaine users weighed 93 grams less, were 0.7 cm shorter, and had smaller head size than those born to nonusers. The study establishes the association of impaired fetal growth with marijuana or cocaine use and the need to include a biologic marker of such use in similar studies.
Publication Name: The New England Journal of Medicine
Growth, Development, and Behavior in Early Childhood Following Prenatal Cocaine Exposure: A Systematic Review
Cocaine use during pregnancy does not consistently have a negative effect on the fetus, according to researchers who reviewed 36 studies. Developmental disabilities that were believed to be linked to prenatal cocaine exposure were actually caused by other factors such as tobacco, marijuana, or alcohol use, and the quality of the child's early environment.
Publication Name: JAMA, The Journal of the American Medical Association
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