“The adolescents with prenatal cocaine exposure had lower gray matter volume in key brain regions involved in emotion, reward, memory, and executive function, compared with non-exposed adolescents,” said the researchers in the October 1 Biological Psychiatry. Decreased gray matter volume was also associated with an increased probability of starting substance use.
“Thus, for the first time in children we see how mothers’ in-utero cocaine use may translate to brain changes in the offspring that impact cognition, mood, and health of the affected offspring later in life,” said Sinha in a statement. “One can speculate that in the future, with additional validation, such specific brain alterations may serve as biomarkers of risk that can be targeted to prevent drug use and abuse.”
For more in Psychiatric News about the effects of prenatal substance use, see the article “How Do Abused Drugs Affect Fetus, Newborn?”
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