Prenatal exposure to substances increases risks of premature births, miscarriages and still births. Exposure during organogenesis has greater chances of leading to the aforementioned. According to Shakran et al (2004) there is greater growth in children who were not exposed to cocaine as compared to children who were exposed and also persistent use of cocaine even in little quantities led to significantly low birth weight in children exposed to cocaine. Children born of women who used cocaine in moderate amounts had smaller head circumferences. Research shows that there is a correlation between fetal growth and birth weight and substance use of tobacco, alcohol, cocaine and marijuana.
Children born of mothers who exposed them to the four substances gave birth to children of low birth weight, length and who had smaller head circumferences. According to an article published in Pediatrics magazine in 2009 any brain damage and how a child is affected depends on how often the mother abused the substance and the stage of development at the time of exposure. Psychological issues in children born to mothers who abused substances vary in their severity from mild to severe.
They include mental retardation, problems in cognitive processes like abstract thinking, problem solving and speech, learning disabilities, difficulty in controlling their impulses and learning behaviors, lack of focus, attention and memory deficits and hyperactivity. Substance use alters the brain chemical function and development moving forward and impairs brain function leading to academic challenges. Cocaine specifically produces in children behavioral symptoms similar to attention deficit hyperactive disorder. Marijuana affects the ability of a child to pay attention and also contributes to development of learning disorders. Children born with FASD commonly have self esteem issues and feel stupid for not being able to grasp concepts as quickly as their counterparts and this consequently leads to anger, frustration and feelings of discouragement. According to a study carried out the University of California, Berkeley in March 2006 revealed that the language skills of children exposed to prenatal substance use had language skills problems.
There was a direct correlation between prenatal exposure to cocaine and language functioning in children aged 4 ½ years old. Exposure to other substances other than cocaine such as marijuana and alcohol were also found to have a pronounced effect on language development.
ReferencesShankran, S, Das, A., Bauer, C.R., Bada, H.S., Lester, B., Wright, L. L. et al (2004). Association between patterns of maternal substsance use and infant birth weight, length and head circumference. Pediatrics, 114(2), 226-234