What Ever Happened to Crack Babies?

Doctors shoot down crack baby theories and stigmas.

By Stephen Ornes|Wednesday, November 29, 2006
RELATED TAGS: FAMILY HEALTH

Crack cocaine. (Courtesy of the
Wichita Police Department)

The New England Journal of Medicine suggested that prenatal cocaine exposure could cause behavioral and learning problems, a media maelstrom over "crack babies" ensued. A former director of the National Center on Child Abuse called them the "bio-underclass." In 1989, columnist Charles Krauthammer wrote, "Theirs will be a life of certain suffering, of probably deviance, of permanent inferiority."

As it turns out, a slew of more rigorous studies have found no scientific basis for such claims. There is evidence that cocaine use increases the chance of spontaneous miscarriage or a low-birth-weight baby. But any later deficits were caused not by crack but by lack of prenatal care, poverty, and malnutrition. Doctors argue that the stigma of being a crack baby does more damage than the crack exposure.

Now a new specter is arising: the "meth baby." This time, doctors seem to have learned a lesson. A group of 96 physicians have circulated a statement proclaiming, "The use of stigmatizing terms, such as "ice babies" and "meth babies," lacks scientific validity and should not be used."


Josie Glausiusz looks at the Crack Kid Myth.

Read about the forest fire of brain damage caused by methamphetamine use.



Comment on this article
ADVERTISEMENT

Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
Collapse bottom bar
DSCMayCover
+

Log in to your account

X
Email address:
Password:
Remember me
Forgot your password?
No problem. Click here to have it emailed to you.

Not registered yet?

Register now for FREE. It takes only a few seconds to complete. Register now »