No Such Thing As A Crack Baby?

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It has been brought to our attention by one of our supporters in Washington that new research fails to support the concept of the crack baby and generally concludes that the risks of cocaine, heroin, and other illegal drugs during pregnancy has been overstated. In 2009, The New York Times reported the impact of prenatal exposure to cocaine is less severe than those of alcohol and are comparable to those of tobacco two legal substances that are used much more often by pregnant women, despite health warnings. The research also suggests that it is better for a heroin-addicted pregnant woman to either keep taking the drug or use methadone, rather than quitting cold turkey, which would cause her baby to be born with withdrawal symptoms.

The findings come as a surprise to ACSH staffers. We are obviously not endorsing drug use in pregnant women, but the health risks to the child appear to be smaller than we had previously thought, says ACSH's Dr. Elizabeth Whelan. Cocaine and heroin use during pregnancy has been looked down upon just like alcohol use, and it looks like the moral issue surrounding illicit drug use is more powerful than the medical evidence warrants. In fact, the mother s use of cigarettes and alcohol may be more dangerous for the fetus and newborn.