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Self-Reported Adolescent Behavioral Adjustment: Effects of Prenatal Cocaine Exposure


PURPOSE: Study assessed the direct effects of prenatal cocaine exposure (PCE) on adolescent internalizing, externalizing, and attention problems, controlling for confounding drug and environmental factors.

METHOD: At 12 and 15 years of age, 371 adolescents (189 PCE and 182 noncocaine exposed), primarily African-American and of low socioeconomic status, participating in a longitudinal, prospective study from birth were assessed for behavioral adjustment using the Youth Self-Report.

RESULTS: Longitudinal mixed model analyses indicated that PCE was associated with greater externalizing behavioral problems at ages 12 and 15 years and more attention problems at age 15, after controlling for confounders. PCE effects were not found for internalizing behaviors. PCE adolescents in adoptive/foster care reported more externalizing and attention problems than PCE adolescents in biological mother/relative care at age 12 or noncocaine-exposed adolescents at both ages. No PCE by gender interaction was found. Prenatal marijuana exposure, home environment, parental attachment and monitoring, family conflict, and violence exposure were also significant predictors of adolescent behavioral adjustment.

CONCLUSIONS: PCE is a risk factor for poor behavioral adjustment in adolescence.


Min, M.O., Minnes, S., Yoon, S., Short, E.J., Singer, L.T. (2014). Self-Reported Adolescent Behavioral Adjustment: Effects of Prenatal Cocaine Exposure. Journal of Adolescent Health, 55(2), pp. 167-174. 

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Last Updated: 12/12/23