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Drug Alcohol Depend. 2012 Nov 1;126(1-2):71-9. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2012.04.015. Epub 2012 May 25.

Cocaine use during pregnancy and health outcome after 10 years.

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Case Western Reserve University, Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences, 11235 Bellflower Road, Cleveland, OH 44106, USA.



Women who used cocaine during pregnancy may become at risk for increased physical and mental health problems.


Three hundred and twenty-one (158 cocaine use during pregnancy (PC), 163 no cocaine (NC)) women were assessed using the Health Survey Questionnaire (SF-36V2) 10 years after infant birth. Factors related to mental and physical health, and co-occurring with PC, were evaluated using multiple regression.


Controlling for age and education, PC women reported poorer total perceived mental health (PMH) (46.3±.9 vs. 50.7±.9, p<.001), more bodily pain (48.1±1.0 vs. 51.5±1.0, p<.02) and poorer health perceptions (46.8±.9 vs. 49.7±.9, p<.03) than NC women. PC women had lower BMI (29% vs. 32%, p<.006), higher current alcoholic drinks per/week (4.05±15.5 vs. 1.29±3.51, p<.005) and number of cigarettes per day (9±10.6 vs. 4±6.5, p<.0001) and greater total life strain (Family Inventory of Life Events and Changes (FILE)) (4.6±4.9 vs. 3.2±3.2, p<.004) than NC women. Regression analyses indicated that body mass index (BMI) mediated the effect of prior cocaine use on perceived physical health (PPH) and total life strain had additive effects. Current cigarette use and total life stress partially mediated the effects of cocaine use on PMH and also had additive independent effects.


PC use is a marker for poor health after 10 years. Mediators of these relationships (BMI, stressful life events and current tobacco use) should be considered when designing interventions to promote health.

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