"The cycle can repeat itself," she said.
The study's participants
The study examined data from 279 women who gave birth at a large, urban publicly subsidized, teaching hospital in Cleveland between 1994 and 1996. These women were among 404 mothers with newborns recruited for a series of studies on the effects of prenatal cocaine exposure on their children's development.
About eight in 10 were African-American; about half used cocaine during pregnancy. One-fourth were married, 98 percent were of low socioeconomic status and about half were unemployed when they gave birth. They ranged in age from 31 to 54 (with an average age of 40) when their physical health was assessed, and more than a fourth had lost child custody.
Seven in 10 reported one or more childhood maltreatment: sexual abuse (32 percent), physical abuse (45 percent), emotional abuse (37 percent), emotional neglect (30 percent), and physical neglect (45 percent).
About half also reported a chronic medical condition, mainly hypertension, pulmonary diseases and pain syndromes.
The women provided information about their lives and children in five-hour research sessions when their children were 4, 6, 11 and 12 years old.
Information provided over time by the women included their personal accounts of the childhood trauma; responses from health surveys; diagnostic examination of addiction to alcohol, cocaine or marijuana; the kinds of everyday life stresses experienced; and psychological distress and the toll they took on their lives.
Min said the women were quite young to have such chronic health problems. The study raises concerns for their health and quality of life as they age, she said.
|Contact: Susan Griffith|
Case Western Reserve University