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Comprehensive Assessment of Spoken Language

Multivariate analyses of the NEPSY showed a trend (p < 0.10). Univariate tests revealed that there was a significant group difference in the language domain, again with the exposed children performing worse (81.6 ± 12.3 vs. 89.5 ± 14.7). Further analyses of the language subtests revealed significant exposure group differences on the Arrows subtest (p < 0.02), Phonological Processing (PP) and Comprehension of Instruction (CI) tests (p < 0.005), and a non-significant trend for the Speeded Naming (SN) test. There was also a non-significant trend effect on the sensorimotor domain (p < 0.10).

Although there are limitations to the later time-point data, taken as a whole, results from this long-term follow-up suggest that prenatal exposure to cocaine is associated with poorer developmental outcomes as late as 9 years of age, particularly in the language domain on a measure of phonological processing. These data are preliminary and resolution of mechanisms by which cocaine exposure may have an effect requires further analyses to include numerous environmental factors. In addition, gender may play a role, particularly on behavioral ratings. These results indicate that children with a history of prenatal exposure to cocaine may have specific sensorimotor delays early in childhood and language, particularly phonological processing, and other cognitive difficulties later