Intelligence and school readiness in preschool children with prenatal drug exposure

Margaret B. Pulsifer, Krestin Radonovich, Harolyn M.E. Belcher, Arlene M. Butz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This prospective, longitudinal study examined factors affecting intelligence and school readiness in children 4-5 years of age with prenatal cocaine/opiate exposure. Intelligence and school readiness scores were not significantly different for the drug-exposed group (N = 104) than for unexposed, demographically matched controls (N = 35), although both groups scored slightly below average. Caregivers of drug-exposed children scored significantly lower in intelligence and reading achievement than caregivers of controls; both were below average. Caregiver reading scores accounted for the largest variance in both child intelligence and school readiness; for school readiness, birth weight also contributed but was less important in the model. Neither prenatal drug exposure nor continuing caregiver drug use was significant in the regression analyses. The relationship between child scores and caregiver reading achievement is consistent with studies showing the importance of a stimulating, supportive home environment, and suggests interventions to foster caregiver literacy skills and facilitate caregiver-child cognitive interactions such as reading to the child.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)89-101
Number of pages13
JournalChild Neuropsychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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