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Neurotoxicol Teratol. 2005 Mar-Apr;27(2):213-20. Epub 2004 Nov 25.

Predictors of motor development in children prenatally exposed to cocaine.

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Brown Medical School, Women and Infants Hospital, Providence, RI 02903, United States.


The current study examined the pattern of motor development across the first 18 months of life in infants with in utero exposure to cocaine to determine how prenatal drug effects and level of exposure relates to motor development. Motor development was examined at 1, 4, 12, and 18 months of age (corrected for prematurity). Infants were divided into cocaine exposed (n=392) and comparison (n=776) groups. Exposure status was determined by meconium assay and maternal self-report with alcohol, marijuana, tobacco, and opiates present in both groups. Motor skills were assessed at 1 month using the NICU Network Neurobehavioral Scale (NNNS), at 4 months using the posture and fine motor assessment of infants (PFMAI), at 12 months using the Bayley Scales of Infant Development-Second Edition (BSID-II), and at 18 months using the Peabody Developmental Motor Scales (PDMS). Examiners masked to exposure status performed all assessments. Motor scores were converted to standard (z) scores, and hierarchical linear modeling (HLM) was used to examine the change in motor skills from 1 to 18 months of age. Infants with exposure to cocaine showed low motor skills at their initial status of 1 month but displayed significant increases over time. Both higher and lower levels of tobacco use related to poorer motor performance on average. Heavy cocaine use related to poorer motor performance as compared to no use, but there were no effects of level of cocaine use on change in motor skills.

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