Prenatal cocaine exposure and small-for-gestational-age status: Effects on growth at 6years of age

Seetha Shankaran, Abhik Das, Charles R. Bauer, Henrietta S. Bada, Barry M. Lester, Linda L. Wright, Rosemary D. Higgins, W. Kenneth Poole

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Objective: To evaluate the impact of prenatal cocaine exposure and small-for-gestational-age (SGA) status on childhood growth. Study design: Cocaine exposure was defined by history or meconium metabolites. Hierarchical linear modeling was used to examine cocaine exposure and SGA status on growth, while controlling for exposure to other drugs and alcohol use. Results: At birth cocaine-exposed infants (n = 364) had significantly lower growth parameters compared to non-exposed children (n = 771). At 6. years, weight was similar between exposed and unexposed children. SGA infants continued to be growth impaired. There was a significant interaction between prenatal cocaine exposure and SGA status at 6. years. The negative effects of cocaine on weight and height were greater among non-SGA than SGA children (432 vs. 280 gm, and 0.7 and 0.5. cm, respectively) while negative effects of SGA status on weight and height were larger in non-cocaine exposed compared to the exposed children (2.3. kg vs.1.6. kg and 2.2 and 1.0. cm). Conclusions: Children exposed to prenatal cocaine were similar in weight to non-exposed children at 6. years of age. Cocaine had an unexplained greater detrimental effect on non-SGA than SGA children. SGA status at birth has an independent detrimental effect on childhood growth.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)575-581
Number of pages7
JournalNeurotoxicology and Teratology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The National Institutes of Health , the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) , the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) , the Administration on Children, Youth, and Families , and the Center for Substance Abuse and Treatment provided grant support for recruiting subjects into the Maternal Lifestyle Study in 1993–1995. NIDA and NICHD provided funding to conduct follow-up examinations in three phases: at 1, 4, 8, 10, 12, 18, 24, and 36 months corrected age (Phase I); at 3½, 4, 4½, 5, 5½, 6, and 7 years of age (Phase II); and at 8, 9, 10, and 11 years of age (Phase III). The funding agencies provided overall oversight of study conduct, but all data analyses and interpretation were completed independent of the funding agencies. We are indebted to our medical and nursing colleagues and the infants and their parents who agreed to take part in this study.


  • Childhood growth
  • Prenatal cocaine exposure
  • Small for gestational age

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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