A 25-year study that followed babies born to crack cocaine addicted mothers found that the children were slow to develop. What surprised the researchers was that the determining factor wasn't crack cocaine. It was poverty.
Jaimee Drakewood hurried in from the rain, eager to get to her final appointment at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.
Ever since her birth 23 years ago, a team of researchers has been tracking every aspect of her development — gauging her progress as an infant, measuring her IQ as a preschooler, even peering into her adolescent brain using an MRI machine.
Now, after nearly a quarter century, the federally funded study was ending, and the question the researchers had been asking was answered.
Did cocaine harm the long-term development of children like Jaimee, who were exposed to the drug in their mother's womb?
The researchers had expected the answer would be a resounding yes. But it wasn't. Another factor would prove far more critical.
A crack epidemic was raging in Philadelphia in 1989 when Hallam Hurt, then chair of neonatology at Albert Einstein Medical Center on North Broad Street, began a study to evaluate the effects of in-utero cocaine exposure on babies.
In maternity wards in Philadelphia and elsewhere, caregivers were seeing more mothers hooked on cheap, smokable crackcocaine. A 1989 study in Philadelphia found that nearly one in six newborns at city hospitals had mothers who tested positive for cocaine.
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