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Increased incidence of intraventricular hemorrhage and developmental delay in cocaine-exposed, very low birth weight infants

The Journal of Pediatrics
DOI: 10.1016/s0022-3476(05)81372-1
  • Medicine


Abstract This study sought to determine whether very low birth weight (VLBW) infants (<1500 gm) with fetal cocaine exposure differed from non-cocaine-exposed VLBW infants in incidence of neonatal medical complications and in later developmental outcome. Forty-one cocaine-exposed, VLBW infants, followed in a longitudinal study, were compared with 41 non-cocaine-exposed, VLBW infants of comparable race, social class, age, and incidence of bronchopulmonary dysplasia. Cocaine-exposed infants were identified on the basis of combined findings of maternal and/or infant urine immunoassay and on the basis of maternal self-report. At birth, groups did not differ on medical risk factors except that cocaine-exposed infants had a higher incidence of mild (grades I to II) intraventricular hemorrhage. Cocaine-using women were also more likely to use other drugs, especially alcohol, marijuana, and tobacco. At follow-up, at mean corrected ages of 16.5 ± 8 months for 30 cocaine-exposed infants and 18.5 ± 7 months for 37 non-cocaine-exposed infants, standardized assessments of cognitive (Mental Development Index) and motor (Psychomotor Development Index) development were administered. Cocaine-exposed infants had lower mean cognitive (83 ± 27 vs 91 ± 19), and motor (85 ± 25 vs 96 ± 18) scores; the incidence of developmental delay was significantly higher even after control for the effects of intraventricular hemorrhage and chronologic age. Cocaine-exposed VLBW infants were also more likely to be living with relatives or in foster homes. We conclude that these VLBW, cocaine-exposed infants were at increased risk of intraventricular hemorrhage, were more likely to be placed outside maternal care, and had higher incidences of cognitive and motor delays at follow-up. (J PEDIATR 1994;124:765-71)

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