Background: Prenatal exposure to cocaine has been associated with a wide spectrum of structural abnormalities in infant brains. The growing use of crack, a smokable and extremely addictive form of cocaine, could exacerbate the situation.
Objective: The purpose of this study was to determine the frequency, type and severity of cerebral lesions detected by transfontanellar US in newborns exposed to crack during gestation.
Materials and methods: This was a retrospective study, involving a review of the medical records of children who were born to crack-using women and who were subjected to transfontanellar US imaging during their first days of life.
Results: Transfontanellar US revealed abnormalities in 45/129 newborns examined (34.9%). The changes detected were subependymal cysts in 24 infants (18.6%), lenticulostriate vasculopathy in 18 infants (14%), subependymal hemorrhage in 9 infants (7%), and choroid plexus cysts in 9 infants (7%).
Conclusion: All of the abnormalities found by US examination were discrete and likely without clinical significance for the babies. However, prospective studies with a long period of tracking are needed to determine whether there are later consequences on the neurodevelopment of children with prenatal exposure to crack.