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What Is Important About a Study of Within-Group Differences of 'Cocaine Babies'?

Barbara J. Howard, MD; Karen J. O'Donnell, PhD
Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1995;149(6):663-664. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1995.02170190073013.
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THE Article by Hofkosh and colleagues1 in this month's Archives is important primarily because of the approach that underlies its null results. Although this study had no control group, it makes a contribution by presenting a different and much needed way of looking at prenatal exposure to drugs. Children of drugabusing mothers recently have been described in the lay press by expressions such as "without the human emotions of empathy," "so hyperactive as to be unmanageable in the regular classroom," and doomed to become "sociopaths." Medical professionals can bring these assumptions and judgments to the care of families with a substance-abusing parent, compromising their ability to see the individual strengths and needs of parents and children.

In the study by Hofkosh et al,1 the strengths of many of the mothers and children are evident. For the 144 cocaine-abusing mothers and their infants, the mean developmental score of


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