Influence of prenatal cocaine exposure on early language development: Longitudinal findings from four months to three years of age

Connie E. Morrow, Emmalee S. Bandstra, James C. Anthony, Audrey Y. Ofir, Lihua Xue, Mary B. Reyes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

38 Scopus citations


The influence of prenatal cocaine exposure on children's language functioning was evaluated longitudinally at six time points from 4 months to 3 years of age. The Miami Prenatal Cocaine Study prospectively enrolled 476 full-term African-American infants at birth, categorized as cocaine-exposed (n = 253) or non-cocaine-exposed (n = 223) by maternal self-report and bioassays (maternal/infant urine, meconium). The Bayley Scales of Infant Development, scored using the Kent Scoring Adaptation for language, was administered at 4, 8, 12, 18, and 24 months. The Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals-Preschool was administered at 3 years. In longitudinal analyses using Generalized Estimating Equations, cocaine-exposed children had lower overall language skills than non-cocaine-exposed children (D = -0.151; 95% CI = -0.269, -0.033; p = .012). Longitudinal findings remained stable after evaluation of potential confounding influences including other prenatal substance exposures and sociodemographic factors. Preliminary evidence also indicated possible mediation through an intermediary effect involving cocaine-associated deficits in fetal growth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)39-50
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2003



  • Language development
  • Prenatal cocaine exposure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Psychology(all)
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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