The Effects Of Prenatal Exposure To Drugs

Armen Hareyan's picture
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I am concerned about the article by Susan Okie in the 1/27/09 New York Times entitled "The Epidemic That Wasn't". It discusses the absence of an epidemic of severely damaged children due to the use of crack during pregnancy.

Unfortunately, not enough children are being followed and the majority of medical school professors quoted in the article, are not out in the community caring for kids in low income areas. If you have directed programs, as I have, for kids with disabilities, you find many severely damaged kids from usually low income mothers who used crack or multiple drugs during their pregnancies. Many are single parents who are doing the best that they can and some because of guilt and a real concern about their children become exceptional mothers.

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Unfortunately, the testing that is done by some psychologists is not adequate to detect the damage that has occurred in many of the kids. I remember a school principal who fought with me about a boy's need for special education. His school psychologist thought the boy was fine, but when we paid to have the boy tested by an outside excellent child psychologist there was an obvious reason to give the child some special help. This problem occurs far to often in the public school due to lack of funds.

Hopefully, with the new budget that President Obama is advocating, the schools and public health services will get more money to help these low income mothers and kids. if we don't do it now, then we may be paying for their care in a drug rehab program, prison, a juvenile center or an institution. No pregnant mother should smoke, use drugs, or drink excessively.

Educational programs in schools can help. I have spoken to many classes and shown pictures of kids who were severely damaged by drugs. I think it made a real impact on some of the girls and wish more doctors would take the time to go out to the schools and talk to the kids.

Dr. Charlotte Thompson has been a practicing physician for fifty years. She is a board certified pediatrician and in 2005-2006 was named as one of the top pediatricians in the U.S. Her special area of expertise is in children's neuromuscular disorders. She is an assistant clinical professor of pediatrics at UC San Diego medical school and the author of "Raising a Handicapped Child, Raising a Child with a Neuromuscular Disorder, Single Solutions and Making Wise Choices. She is also a proud mother and grandmother.

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