The term “crack baby” was coined back in the 1980s and 1990s during a huge crack cocaine epidemic. It was said that women who smoked crack during their pregnancies, exposing their baby to the drug in utero, would cause the baby to be born addicted. It was also said that these babies would suffer withdrawal symptoms at the time of birth and face the risk of becoming severely physically, mentally, and emotionally disabled.

A “crack baby” supposedly faced a lifetime of inferiority and suffering, had an increased risk of developing several different health issues during growth and development, and was a joyless and unmanageable child.

What Are Crack Babies

Do Crack Babies Exist?

The term “crack baby” is a myth that has persisted for decades. Countless studies done over the last several years have consistently concluded that fetal exposure to crack cocaine has little to no effect on the long-term development of a child, and no specific conditions or disorders have been found in these children.

Studies, measured by test scores, have also shown that kids six years and younger have not had any language, growth, or development issues. Prenatal crack cocaine exposure also appears to have no effect on infant growth.

The National Institute of Health’s Medscape General Medicine says,


Punitive legislation was directed at newborns and their mothers, legislation which only increased the stigma against them and decreased the chances of addressing their real problems – poverty and a lack of prenatal care. It is now clear that the anti-crack baby policies were based on assumptions, which have no scientific validity. The civil and child welfare actions that resulted were harmful to women, children, and families who instead desperately needed treatment. (NIH)


So poverty and the stress and harm associated with it, abuse, neglect, poor schooling, and lack of healthcare and nutrition have a more significant impact on the mental, emotional, and physical well-being and development of a child than fetal exposure to crack. These issues are the major reason that a lot of “crack babies” struggle as they get older.

Does Exposure to Crack During Pregnancy Affect the Unborn Baby?

Crack does have a negative impact on a developing fetus. Babies that are exposed to crack cocaine in utero are often born prematurely, have a small-sized head, and have a low birth weight.

A lot of these children have problems focusing, are diagnosed with ADHD, can have cerebral palsy, and may show defiant behavior. However, very little evidence shows that crack causes brain damage in babies. The development of the brain and body normally catches up as children grow up.

Crack Cocaine Does Affect Pregnancies

Some say that the effects of crack cocaine on a baby are similar to the effects of tobacco, and are not as severe as that of alcohol. Also, there is no evidence that shows a difference in harm to the fetus between cocaine and crack cocaine.

In-utero exposure to crack cocaine has proven to be a difficult factor to study because it is rarely an isolated issue. Fetal exposure to crack usually coexists with a variety of other issues such as the mother’s use of other drugs, lack of medical care, and malnourishment. Also, these children usually grow up in unstable environments and are at risk of violence, abuse, and neglect.

Treatment for Crack Addiction is your #1 source for crack treatment information. Our website provides the best resources for crack addiction treatment. Begin healing from your addiction by contacting one of our addiction specialists. Discover a brand new life and a brighter tomorrow free from crack and cocaine addiction.

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