Maternal cocaine use and infant behavior

Neurotoxicol Teratol. Mar-Apr 1991;13(2):229-33. doi: 10.1016/0892-0362(91)90015-o.


We hypothesized that prenatal cocaine exposure results in less optimal infant behavior and more impaired maternal-infant interaction in healthy term infants. Infants were evaluated with the Neonatal Behavioral Assessment Scale (NBAS) at days 1-3 and 11-30 of age, and mother-infant pairs with the Nursing Child Assessment of Feeding Scale (NCAFS) at 7-16 weeks of age. Drug use was determined from confidential interviews, urine assays and medical records. Cocaine-exposed infants (N = 51) were no different than unexposed comparison infants (N = 60) on the first NBAS exam. On the second NBAS exam, 20 cocaine-exposed infants had slightly lower motor cluster scores compared with those of 32 unexposed infants (p = 0.01), but this difference was reduced after control for several confounding variables. The NCAFS detected no differences between groups in maternal or infant behavior. Infants in this population showed no clinically meaningful effects of cocaine exposure on behavior or maternal-infant interaction.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Behavior / drug effects*
  • Cocaine / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Maternal Behavior
  • Maternal-Fetal Exchange*
  • Motor Skills / drug effects
  • Pregnancy


  • Cocaine