Impact of Prenatal Cocaine Exposure on Attention and Response Inhibition as Assessed by Continuous Performance Tests


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Abstract

Objective:This study examined the influence of prenatal cocaine exposure on attention and response inhibition measured by continuous performance tests (CPTs) at ages 5 and 7 years.Methods:The baseline sample consisted of 253 cocaine-exposed and 223 non–cocaine-exposed children enrolled prospectively at birth and assessed comprehensively through age 7 years in the longitudinal Miami Prenatal Cocaine Study. This report includes a subsample of 415 children (219 cocaine-exposed, 196 non–cocaine-exposed) who completed at least one CPT assessment at ages 5 and/or 7 years. Prenatal cocaine exposure was measured by maternal self-report and maternal and infant bioassays. Deficits in attention and response inhibition are estimated in relation to prenatal cocaine exposure using generalized estimating equations within the general linear model.Results:Results indicate cocaine-associated increases in omission errors at ages 5 and 7 as well as increases in response times for target tasks (i.e., slower reaction times) and decreased consistency in performance at age 7. There were no demonstrable cocaine-associated deficits in commission errors. Estimates did not change markedly with statistical adjustment for selected prenatal and postnatal covariates.Conclusion:Evidence supports cocaine-associated deficits in attention processing through age 7 years.

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