Prenatal Cocaine Exposure: Scientific Considerations and Policy Implications

Prenatal Cocaine Exposure: Scientific Considerations and Policy Implications

Prenatal Cocaine Exposure: Scientific Considerations and Policy Implications

Prenatal Cocaine Exposure: Scientific Considerations and Policy Implications

Synopsis

New research has shown that children exposed to cocaine before birth are at risk of learning and behavioral problems. Such problems have broad implications for education, social welfare, and criminal justice in the U.S. However, there are numerous opportunities to minimize prenatal cocaine exposure and its impacts and thus to enhance the well-being of women and their children. A collaboration with the New York Academy of sciences, this report presents an overview of the current state of knowledge regarding the effects of cocaine on the developing brain and offers policy considerations for addressing the issues that arise from cocaine use by pregnant women.

Excerpt

This report, a collaborative effort of the RAND Drug Policy Research Center and the New York Academy of Sciences, presents an overview of the current state of knowledge regarding the effects of cocaine on the developing brain and offers policy considerations for addressing the issues that arise from cocaine use by pregnant women. Most of the scientific research discussed in the report is derived from a 1997 New York Academy of Sciences conference on “Cocaine: Effects on the Developing Brain,” the proceedings of which have been published as Volume 846 of the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. The conference was co-sponsored by the Allegheny University of the Health Sciences (now called MCP Hahnemann University) and the National Institutes of Health. The policy implications discussed here are based on material presented at this conference and on investigations conducted by researchers at RAND under the leadership of Dr. Gail Zellman.

THE RAND DRUG POLICY RESEARCH CENTER

The Drug Policy Research Center, a joint endeavor of RAND Criminal Justice and RAND Health, was established in 1989 to conduct the empirical research, policy analysis, and outreach needed to help community leaders and public officials develop more effective strategies for dealing with drug problems. The Center builds on a long tradition of RAND research characterized by an interdisciplinary, empirical approach to public policy issues and rigorous standards of quality, objectivity, and independence. The Ford Foundation and other foundations, as well as government agencies, cor-

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