Consequences Of Addiction In Children

Infants exposed to drugs in utero can present problems for caretakers, such as the consequences of prematurity, low birth weight, retarded intra-uterine growth, and developmental delays (Blau et al., 1994; Scherling, 1994). Cocaine-exposed in fants can be irritable and easily overstimulated, exhibit increased muscle tone, and resist attempts at soothing (Kelley, 1990). There is also a large literature on alcohol effects in utero, which may affect at least 2.6 million infants annually (for review of this literature, see Finnegan & Kandall,

1992). For drug-dependent mothers, these babies sometimes present overwhelming challenges that are often interpreted as ''personal'' rejection. Mothers' emotions can include guilt about exposure of their child to drugs as well as anger that their efforts at parenting hyperactive babies with feeding difficulties and abnormal sleep patterns seem unsuccessful and only generate more stress. The attachment between mother and child may be disrupted because mothers experience these infants as being highly demanding and ignore and withdraw from them or continue to use drugs. All too often, the consequences of disrupted attachment lead to child neglect and abuse.

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