Longitudinal study investigates cocaine's impact on adolescent development

August 19, 2009,

Teen years are filled with experimenting. Sometimes that means trying some risky behaviors.

Nearly 400 teens, half of which were prenatally exposed to cocaine, will be studied in their adolescent years. Researchers will look at the youths' choices when it comes to using drugs, having sex or engaging in delinquent behaviors, and see if there is an association with prenatal . The study will also closely follow the and behavior of the young people.

Sonia Minnes, an assistant professor from the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences at Case Western Reserve University and now the lead researcher in phase four of a long-term study of cocaine exposed children, has received a five-year, nearly $5 million grant from the National Institute on (NIDA).

"This latest funding will help us to continue to tell the story of what happens in the development of prenatally cocaine-exposed children," says Minnes.

With the inception of this new study, "Prenatal Cocaine Exposure in Adolescence," Minnes and her co-investigators will follow the children through age 18.

The study began with 415 infant-mother (or caretaker) pairs recruited at the infant's birth. Over the years, the children's development has been followed, as well as the mental health and substance abuse by the mother or caregiver. In three previous phases of NIDA funding, the researchers found that prenatal cocaine exposure negatively affects attention, language development, behavior and the ability to process visual information.

"Most people know that mothers should not use drugs during pregnancy," says Minnes. "This study over time will tell us what risks are associated with a specific prenatal drug exposure and how environmental influences shape developmental outcomes."

She adds that they have found important environmental factors such as elevated blood lead, maternal mental health and vocabulary level and the type of caregiver placement, are important to consider in evaluating prenatal cocaine exposure's effect on developmental outcome. "The study will help us understand what interventions are needed at different developmental stages in their lives."

The study has been underway since 1994, when Lynn Singer, deputy provost and professor of pediatrics in the school of medicine, questioned what happens to prenatally cocaine-exposed children as they grow older. Minnes, who worked as the project coordinator since its beginning, became the study's principal investigator in 2007.

Her recent appointment to the Mandel School of Applied Social Science, where she earned her doctorate in social work, comes at a pivotal point in the study's progress as the focus shifts towards social behavior issues traditionally studied in the realm of social work, says Minnes. She will draw from the expertise of colleagues at MSASS who can provide additional insight regarding the effects of neighborhood and family violence, parental substance use, and placement issues on the development of prenatally cocaine-exposed adolescents.

Findings from the study will provide important information to early intervention specialists and child policy experts who can then develop targeted therapeutic interventions.

Source: Case Western Reserve University (news : web)

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Group suggests pushing age of adolescence to 24

January 22, 2018
A small group of researchers with the Royal Children's Hospital in Australia is suggesting that it might be time to change the span of years that define adolescence—from the current 10 to 19 to a proposed 10 to 24 years ...

Marijuana use does not lower chances of getting pregnant

January 22, 2018
Marijuana use—by either men or women—does not appear to lower a couple's chances of getting pregnant, according to a new study led by Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) researchers.

Women run faster after taking newly developed supplement, study finds

January 19, 2018
A new study found that women who took a specially prepared blend of minerals and nutrients for a month saw their 3-mile run times drop by almost a minute.

Americans are getting more sleep

January 19, 2018
Although more than one in three Americans still don't get enough sleep, a new analysis shows first signs of success in the fight for more shut eye. According to data from 181,335 respondents aged 15 and older who participated ...

Wine is good for you—to a point

January 18, 2018
The Mediterranean diet has become synonymous with healthy eating, but there's one thing in it that stands out: It's cool to drink wine.

Sleep better, lose weight?

January 17, 2018
(HealthDay)—Sleeplessness could cost you when it's time to stand on your bathroom scale, a new British study suggests.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.