Patterns of cocaine binging: Effect on pregnancy

Gene Burkett, Salih Y. Yasin, Diana Palow, Larry LaVoie, Marleny Martinez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to determine how cocaine and crack binging affected perinatal complications. STUDY DESIGN: Between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 1989, patterns of cocaine-crack binging and perinatal consequences in 905 pregnant women from multiethnic, multiracial, inner-city populations were studied. Binging cycles reflect the chaotic lifestyle of drug abuse and multiple obstetric at-risk cofactors as integral parts of binging and are more accurately defined than amount of drugs consumed. RESULTS: Binging patterns in 905 pregnant women who use cocaine-crack as their primary drug were as follows: group 1, 78 women with "erratic" binging that is variable in intervals, duration, and amounts but who are very aggressive drug seekers; group 2, 67 women who binged daily; group 3, 760 women who binged in cycles at 3-, 5-, 7-, or > 7-day intervals. Binges ranged from 26.4 to 34.4 hours. Complications were proportional to the frequency of binging, (linear association p < 0.0007). The prematurity rate in group 1 was unexpectedly as high as that in group 2 (35.9% vs 34.3%). Acute problems (vaginal bleeding 21.8%, abruptio placentae 14.3%, stillbirths 20.5%) were most significant in group 1, while chronic problems (small-for-gestational-age infants 32.8%, systemic infections 31.3%, anemia 35.6%, and low maternal weight [< 100 pounds] 32.8%) were more significant in groups 2 and 3. Odds ratios show that prematurity, abruptio placentae, and vaginal bleeding were two to three times more likely to occur if test results for cocaine were positive at delivery. However, in group 1 the likelihood of abruptio placentae was unchanged whether toxicologic test results were positive (14.3%) or negative (14.0%), reflecting the role of cofactors in binging. CONCLUSION: Erratic use of cocaine-crack results in perinatal complications that are as severe as those occurring with daily binging but the patterns differ. Cofactors play a significant role in outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)372-379
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican journal of obstetrics and gynecology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 1994


  • Cocaine-crack binging
  • perinatal complications

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Medicine(all)


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