Systematic Review of Prenatal Cocaine Exposure and Adolescent Development

Department of Pediatrics, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland.
PEDIATRICS (Impact Factor: 5.3). 05/2013; 131(6). DOI: 10.1542/peds.2012-0945
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE:Previous research found that prenatal cocaine exposure (PCE) may increase children's vulnerability to behavior and cognition problems. Maturational changes in brain and social development make adolescence an ideal time to reexamine associations. The objective was to conduct a systematic review of published studies examining associations between PCE and adolescent development (behavior, cognition/school outcomes, physiologic responses, and brain morphology/functioning).METHODS:Articles were obtained from PubMed, PsycInfo, Web of Science, and CINAHL databases through July 2012 with search terms: prenatal drug, substance, or cocaine exposure; adolescence/adolescent; and in utero substance/drug exposure. Criteria for inclusion were nonexposed comparison group, human adolescents aged 11 to 19, peer-reviewed, English-language, and adolescent outcomes.RESULTS:Twenty-seven studies representing 9 cohorts met the criteria. Four outcome categories were identified: behavior, cognition/school performance, brain structure/function, and physiologic responses. Eleven examined behavior; 7 found small but significant differences favoring nonexposed adolescents, with small effect sizes. Eight examined cognition/school performance; 6 reported significantly lower scores on language and memory tasks among adolescents with PCE, with varying effect sizes varied. Eight examined brain structure/function and reported morphologic differences with few functional differences. Three examined physiologic responses with discordant findings. Most studies controlled for other prenatal exposures, caregiving environment, and violence exposure; few examined mechanisms.CONCLUSIONS:Consistent with findings among younger children, PCE increases the risk for small but significantly less favorable adolescent functioning. Although the clinical importance of differences is often unknown, the caregiving environment and violence exposure pose additional threats. Future research should investigate mechanisms linking PCE with adolescent functioning.

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    • "Although there is a well-known association between child's substance use and timing of first sexual intercourse, no studies to date have examined the direct and indirect effects of PCE on the full range of age at initiation of sexual behavior. Children with PCE are vulnerable to early sexual intercourse and associated reproductive health outcomes (such as STIs/HIV and unintended pregnancy) because of the strong association of PCE with early substance use (Delaney-Black et al., 2011; Frank et al., 2011; Minnes et al., 2014; Richardson et al., 2013b) and other risk factors (Ackerman et al., 2010; Buckingham-Howes et al., 2013; Richardson et al., 2011). Thus, exposed individuals may enter the period of adolescence " primed " for earlier substance use and sexual intercourse, and are more likely to engage in these behaviors at a less optimal time than unexposed individuals. "
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    ABSTRACT: Prenatal cocaine exposure (PCE) has been linked to child behavior problems and risky behavior during adolescence such as early substance use. Behavior problems and early substance use are associated with earlier initiation of sexual behavior. The goal of this study was to examine the direct and indirect effects of PCE on sexual initiation in a longitudinal birth cohort, about half of whom were exposed to cocaine in utero. Women were interviewed twice prenatally, at delivery, and 1, 3, 7, 10, 15, and 21 years postpartum. Offspring (52% female, 54% African American) were assessed at delivery and at each follow-up phase with age-appropriate assessments. At age 21, 225 offspring reported on their substance use and sexual behavior. First trimester cocaine exposure was a significant predictor of earlier age of first intercourse in a survival analysis, after controlling for race, sociodemographic characteristics, caregiver pre- and postnatal substance use, parental supervision, and child's pubertal timing. However, the association between PCE and age of first sexual intercourse was mediated by adolescent marijuana and alcohol use prior to age 15. Most of the effect of PCE on age of sexual initiation occurred between the ages of 13-18, when rates of initiation were approximately 10% higher among exposed offspring. This effect was mediated by early adolescent substance use. These results have implications for identification of the exposed offspring at greatest risk of HIV risk behaviors and early, unplanned pregnancy. Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.
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    ABSTRACT: Drug abuse during pregnancy is a major public health concern, with negative consequences throughout development. Prenatal cocaine exposure (PCE) in rats produces social behavior deficits with corresponding changes in neuroendocrine and monoaminergic signaling. The relevance of parental care in social behavior maturity cannot be ignored, and gestational exposure to cocaine severely disrupts parental care, thus impacting the early environment of the offspring. Oxytocin (Oxt) is critical in regulating social behaviors and central levels are disrupted following acute and chronic cocaine (CC) treatment in postpartum rat dams, coincident with deficits in maternal care. We will discuss studies aimed to determine the relative contribution of PCE and CC-induced deficits in maternal care to social behaviors and Oxt signaling across development. PCE results in decreased social (including parental) behaviors in adolescence and adulthood. PCE is also associated with increased aggression in adults. Rearing by CC-exposed mothers synergistically increases the behavioral effects of PCE. Rearing by CC-exposed mothers, but not PCE, disrupts Oxt levels and mRNA in regions relevant to social behavior, but does not affect receptors in postpartum adult offspring. Preliminary work indicates PCE/CC rearing has dynamic effects on Oxt levels and receptors in neonatal rat pups, suggesting very early regulation of Oxt signaling. This work highlights how the interactive role of Oxt signaling and behavioral context throughout development can be derailed by drug abuse during pregnancy. The relevance of disrupted Oxt to intergenerational transmission of addiction is briefly discussed.
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