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Crack Baby Myth

Few images could so assuredly ignite the public imagination, and horror, as that of the “crack-baby” – tiny, innocent and born with a monkey on its back. It was an image that fueled public fears, and lent support to drug warriors, as did few others. Later research showed that initial fears about the damage suffered by babies born to drug-abusing mothers had been exaggerated. Some civil-rights activists concluded that fears of cocaine addiction in newborns (and the drug testing primarily of black babies and their mothers) was just another symptom of societal racism.

Crack Baby Myth Debate

Recent information is indicating that, as is so often the case, the truth lies somewhere in between. Babies born addicted to crack cocaine and other drugs, and those born to drug-abusing mothers, can overcome the difficulties engendered by their early exposure to drugs. Crack Baby MythAnd the impact of drug abuse may not be as significant as other health and environmental factors. Nevertheless, drug-addicted babies do face special challenges, and if these babies are not identified, and given the special treatment they need, they will indeed suffer long-term damage as a result of their mothers’ drug abuse.

Crack Baby Myth and Child Health Alert

But a decade later, Child Health Alert said initial fears had been excessive. “The scientific evidence is controversial on just how much damage cocaine might cause,” stated the authors, citing a study by researchers at Boston University, which found that although cocaine unquestionably harmed infants, “when they looked at children 6 years of age or younger, they found no strong evidence that cocaine was any more harmful than various other factors, such as:

  • A mother's use of other drugs (for example, tobacco, marijuana, or alcohol)
  • A poor-quality environment for the child
  • Problems which some people have blamed specifically on cocaine could as easily be due to these other factors

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