Three decades ago, sensational magazine stories fueled fear of an epidemic of “crack babies.” A July 1986 Newsweek article called newborns of addicted mothers “heirs of America’s deadly romance with cocaine,” and noted “doctors can only guess at the scope” of the problems the children would have. A September 1988 Time article, titled “Crack Comes to the Nursery,” reported:
Even one ‘‘hit’’ of crack can irreparably damage a fetus or breast-fed baby. At birth the babies display obvious signs of crack exposure—tremors, irritability and lethargy—that may belie the seriousness of the harm done. These symptoms may disappear in a week or more, but the underlying damage remains.
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Joshua M. Sharfstein, MD Joshua M. Sharfstein, MD, is Vice Dean for Public Health Practice and Community Engagement and Professor of the Practice at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland. He previously served as Secretary of...