My local paper ran this essay this week: “Crack Baby” Study Ends With Unexpected But Clear Result. After 23 years, the study is over and the results might interest you. Turns out, cocaine is not the worst thing for you. It did not create underdeveloped children, mentally retarded children, emotionally disturbed children. Researchers found no evidence that cocaine accounted for clinically significant differences between exposed children and non-exposed children.
The Clear Result?
The clear result is not that cocaine has no negative impact (it does contribute to premature births and some other problems, but it doesn’t appear to contribute to life long problems in children born at full term.
The clear result is that both controls and exposed children were from the same environment: urban, minority, poor communities. The clear result is that POVERTY and VIOLENCE are significant contributers to things such as low IQ, exposure to traumatic experiences, etc.
Listen to some of these stats:
- At age 4, control group average IQ: 81.9; exposed children average IQ: 79.0 (both significantly lower than average IQ of national population of children same aged
- At age 6, 25% of kids in each group scored in abnormal range in math and letter/word recognition
- By age 7, 81% had seen someone arrested, 35% had seen someone shot, 19% had seen a dead body outside
- Drug use did not differ between groups: 42% had used pot (as young adults)
But some stats that astounded me:
Of the 224 kids, the researchers have kept track of 110. Here’s some additional data:
- 2 dead, 3 in prison
- 6 have college degrees, 6 on the way to getting a degree (these are the ones who they kept in touch with! I expect the percentage of college degrees to not would go down!)
- and this one: 60 children born to the 110 participants (remember the ages of the participants must be between 23 and 26!)
Mix poverty with failing schools, fractured families, and you get folks who have few options to make it. Without much hope for a future, it is easy to give in to any pleasure or comfort for the moment. Thus, you see higher drug use and babies.
Good to remember that when we see a simple equation between problem and cause, we probably have it somewhat wrong.