The Philadelphia Inquirer has a powerful story this week reporting on a study of 224 near-term and full-term babies born at Albert Einstein Medical Center between 1989 and 1992, half whose mothers had used cocaine during pregnancy and half whose mothers had not. All the babies were from low-income families and nearly all were African American. The good news is that the study provides more evidence to refute the widespread fear from the early days of the crack epidemic that all babies born to crack-addicted mothers would suffer permanent, devastating impairment. The bad news is found in the story's description of the struggles of many of the babies, including those whose mothers were not crack-addicted. The study's author, the then-chair of neonatology at the Center, concludes:
Poverty is a more powerful influence on the outcome of inner-city children than gestational exposure to cocaine.