Objective: To evaluate the effects of a home intervention and ongoing maternal drug use on the developmental outcome of drug-exposed infants.
Design: Longitudinal randomized cohort study of a home intervention with substance-abusing mothers and their infants. Mother-infant dyads were randomly assigned to a control or intervention group at 2 weeks' post partum. Control families received brief monthly tracking visits. Intervention families received weekly home visits from 0 to 6 months and biweekly visits from 6 to 18 months by trained lay visitors.
Participants: One hundred eight low-income, inner-city, drug-exposed children (control, 54; intervention, 54) who underwent developmental testing at 6, 12, and 18 months post partum and who remained with their biological mothers through 18 months.
Main outcome measures: Infant scores from the Bayley Scales of Infant Development (BSID) at 6, 12, and 18 months post partum. Maternal report of drug use during the pregnancy and ongoing drug use through 18 months post partum was assessed.
Results: In the repeated-measures analyses, intervention infants had significantly higher BSID Mental Developmental Index (MDI) and Psychomotor Developmental Index scores than control infants. Ongoing maternal cocaine and/or heroin use was associated with lower MDI scores. Finally, MDI scores decreased significantly in both groups.
Conclusions: Ongoing maternal drug use is associated with worse developmental outcomes among a group of drug-exposed infants. A home intervention led to higher BSID scores among drug-exposed infants. However, BSID MDI scores decreased during the first 18 months post partum among inner-city, low-socioeconomic-status infants in the present study.