Prenatal drug exposure: Effects on cognitive functioning at 5 years of age

Margaret B. Pulsifer, Arlene M. Butz, Megan O'Reilly Foran, Harolyn M.E. Belcher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


The goal of this cross-sectional study was to compare cognitive functioning at age 5 years in prenatal drug-exposed children with nondrug-exposed children from a comparable inner-city environment. Children with prenatal drug exposure scored significantly lower on measures of language, school readiness skills, impulse control, and visual attention span/sequencing than controls matched for age and socioeconomic status. Intelligence, visual-motor, manual dexterity, and sustained attention scores were not significantly different between groups. The total sample scored significantly below the normative mean on standardized measures of intelligence, language, school readiness, visual-motor skills, impulse control, and sustained attention, with 40% scoring at least 1 standard deviation below the mean (IQ < 85) on a measure of intelligence. Findings suggest that children with prenatal drug exposure are at increased risk for learning and attention problems and are in need of close developmental surveillance and possible intervention to support school success and improve behavioral outcome.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)58-65
Number of pages8
JournalClinical pediatrics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2008


  • Attention.
  • Impulsivity
  • Intelligence
  • Prenatal drug exposure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


Dive into the research topics of 'Prenatal drug exposure: Effects on cognitive functioning at 5 years of age'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this