NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Babies born to mothers who used cocaine while pregnant show a reduction in blood flow to the brain when they reach adolescence, according to a report in the journal Pediatrics.
“What this means is not certain at this time,” Dr. Hallam Hurt from Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania told Reuters Health. “These changes may have been present since birth, suggesting a long-lasting effect of (exposure during pregnancy), or they may have just occurred during adolescence, a so-called latent effect.”
Hurt and associates used a special type of MRI to measure brain blood flow in adolescents who had been exposed to cocaine prenatally and those who had not.
The exposed teens showed decreased blood flow in various brain regions, with marked decreases in two key regions: the occipital lobe, an area that controls vision, and the thalamus, an area that acts as a sensory relay station for the brain.
SOURCE: Pediatrics, November 2007.