Investigation on the Effects on Language Development of Prenatal Exposure to Drugs

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Statistics show that an estimated 5.9 percent of women use drugs, 15.9 percent smoke cigarettes, and 8.5 percent drink alcohol at least once during pregnancy, according to a study conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (2013). If drug and alcohol use by a pregnant woman continues and goes unnoticed by family members or doctors, the mental and physical development of their child has the potential to be extremely severe (Brady, Posner, Lang, Rosati, 1994). In this current paper, the effects of prenatal exposure to illicit drugs, non-illicit drugs, and alcohol on language development are investigated. The illicit drugs that will be investigated include marijuana, MDMA, and cocaine. Non-illicit drugs investigated include nicotine, and several types of anti-depressants. It is hypothesized that language development is negatively-effected, non-effected, or positively-effected by prenatal drug exposure based upon what drug is taken by the mother during pregnancy and the dose of the drug taken. Each of the subsequent research studies will help to provide evidence that supports the hypothesis at hand.
In the study conducted by Bandstra et al. (2002), the researchers looked to investigate the effects of prenatal cocaine exposure on children’s language development overtime. The study consisted of 253 African-American mother-child groups who were exposed to cocaine, and 207 African-American mother-child groups who were not exposed to cocaine. Each mother-child group came from poor areas of Miami. In order to determine the amount of cocaine that each child was exposed to, each mother was interviewed about when they used cocaine during pregnancy, the amount of cocaine they used, and how many days per...

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...2002). Polydrug use among secondary school students: Combinations, prevalences and risk profiles. Drugs: Education, Prevention and Policy, 9, 355-365.
-Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (2013). Results from the 2012 NSDUH: Summary of National Findings, SAMHSA, CBHSQ. Retrieved May 10, 2014, from http://www.samhsa gov/data/NSDUH/2012SummNatFindDetTables /NationalFindings/ NSD UHresults2012.htm#ch4.3
-US Census Bureau. (2012). USA QuickFacts from the US Census Bureau. Retrieved May 10, 2014, from
-Wong, D. T., Bymaster, F. P., Horng, J. S., & Molloy, B. B. (1975). A new selective inhibitor for uptake of serotonin into synaptosomes of rat brain: 3-(p-trifluoromethylphenoxy). N-methyl-3-phenylpropylamine. Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, 193(3), 804-811.

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