This study examined the effects of prenatal cocaine exposure, environmental risk, and maternal verbal intelligence on children's cognitive ability. Gender and age were examined as moderators of potential cocaine exposure effects. The Stanford-Binet IV intelligence test was administered to 231 children (91 cocaine exposed, 140 unexposed) at ages 4, 6, and 9 years. Neonatal medical risk and other prenatal exposures (alcohol, cigarettes, and marijuana) were also examined for their unique effects on child IQ. Mixed models analysis indicated that prenatal cocaine exposure interacted with gender, as cocaine-exposed boys had lower composite IQ scores. Age at assessment did not moderate this relation, indicating that cocaine-exposed boys had lower IQs across this age period. A stimulating home environment and high maternal verbal IQ also predicted higher composite IQ scores. Cocaine-exposed boys had lower scores on the Abstract/Visual Reasoning subscale, with trends for lower scores on the Short-Term Memory and Verbal Reasoning subscales, as exposure effects were observed across domains. The findings indicate that cocaine exposure continues to place children at risk for mild cognitive deficits into preadolescence. Possible mechanisms for the Exposure × Gender interaction are discussed.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Life-span and Life-course Studies
- environmental risk
- gender differences
- prenatal cocaine exposure