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May 1989

Prenatal Cocaine Exposure Is Associated With Respiratory Pattern Abnormalities

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Pediatrics (Drs Chasnoff and Hunt) and Psychiatry (Drs Chasnoff, Kletter, and Kaplan), Northwestern University Medical School, Chicago, Ill. Dr Hunt is now with the Department of Pediatrics, Medical College of Ohio, Toledo.

Am J Dis Child. 1989;143(5):583-587. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1989.02150170085028

• As retrospectively determined, the rate of sudden infant death syndrome in 66 infants prenatally exposed to cocaine was 15%, compared with only 4% among infants exposed to opiates. This prospective evaluation of cardiorespiratory pattern in 32 cocaine-exposed and 18 methadone-exposed infants was therefore performed to further evaluate the effects of intrauterine exposure. The two groups were similar in maternal age, race, and cigarette, alcohol, and marijuana use and in gestational age, sex, and birth weight. Apnea density and episodes of periodic breathing exceeded the 95th percentile for normal infants in 12 (38%) of 32 of cocaine-exposed infants vs only 1 (6%) of 18 opiate-exposed infants. Five cocaine-exposed but no opiate-exposed infants had apnea of infancy, and all 5 of these infants had an abnormal cardiorespiratory pattern. In all 13 infants with an abnormal cardiorespiratory pattern, theophylline treatment resulted in normalization of the respiratory pattern and was associated with absence of any (further) clinical events. In summary, infants prenatally exposed to cocaine have a higher incidence of cardiorespiratory pattern abnormalities than do infants with methadone or no prenatal drug exposure.

(AJDC. 1989;143:583-587)

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