The Maternal Lifestyle Study (MLS): effects of prenatal cocaine and/or opiate exposure on auditory brain response at one month

J Pediatr. 2003 Mar;142(3):279-85. doi: 10.1067/mpd.2003.112.


Objective: To study absolute and interpeak latencies of the auditory brain response in infants exposed to cocaine and/or opiates in utero.Study design The sample included 477 exposed and 554 comparison infants matched for race, sex, and gestational age. Mothers were recruited at 4 urban university-based centers; most were black, receiving public assistance, and had received adequate prenatal care. Exposure was determined by meconium assay and self-report with alcohol, marijuana, and tobacco present in both groups. At 1 month, infants were tested by masked examiners with the auditory brain response.

Results: Analyses were conducted for exposed and comparison groups and for level of prenatal cocaine exposure with adjustment for covariates (alcohol, marijuana, tobacco, gestational age at birth, social class, and site). Heavy prenatal cocaine exposure (>/=3 days per week, first trimester) led to an increase in the I-III, I-V, and III-V interpeak latencies and to a shorter latency to peak I. Infants with prenatal opiate exposure showed a longer latency to peak V and a longer III-V interpeak latency.

Conclusions: Prenatal cocaine and/or opiate exposure affects neural transmission. Detection of these effects requires a large sample with control for gestational age, other drugs, and level of cocaine use.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol Drinking
  • Cocaine / adverse effects*
  • Cocaine-Related Disorders / complications
  • Evoked Potentials, Auditory, Brain Stem / drug effects*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Narcotics / adverse effects*
  • Opioid-Related Disorders / complications
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects*
  • Smoking
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Urban Health


  • Narcotics
  • Cocaine