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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Longitudinal investigation of task persistence and sustained attention in children with prenatal cocaine exposure.

The present study estimates the longitudinal effects of prenatal cocaine exposure on indicators of sustained attention processing at 3, 5 and 7 years of age in an urban sample of full-term African-American children (235 cocaine-exposed, 207 noncocaine-exposed). The sample was enrolled prospectively at birth, with documentation of prenatal drug exposure status through maternal interview, urine and meconium toxicology assays. Sustained attention was measured at age 3 years using a standardized measure of task persistence during a challenging task [G.A. Morgan, N.A. Busch-Rossnagel, C.A. Maslin-Cole and R.J. Harmon, Individualized Assessment of Mastery Motivation: Manual for 15-36 Month Old Children, 1992.], and at ages 5 and 7 years using omission error scores from computerized continuous performance tasks (CPT) [L. Greenberg, R. Leark, T. Dupuy, C. Corman, C. Kindschi, M. Cenedela, Test of Variables of Attention (T.O.V.A. and T.O.V.A.-A.), 22, Universal Attention Disorders, Los Alamitos, CA, 1996; C.K. Conners, Conners' Continuous Performance Test (CPT), second ed., Multi-Health Systems, Canada, 1995.]. Findings from longitudinal GLM/GEE analyses of the three measured time points support a stable influence of prenatal cocaine exposure on indicators of sustained attention, after controlling for prenatal exposure to alcohol, marijuana, tobacco and over 20 additional medical and social-demographic covariates drawn from potentially confounding influences assessed at birth and later assessment visits (D=0.21; 95% CI=0.04, 0.38; P=.017). This effect was not mediated by fetal growth or gestational age and remained highly stable with increasing levels of covariate control. Separately, using the age 7 data, a structural equations model (SEM) was constructed combining all available self-report and bioassay data to measure magnitude of cocaine exposure in relationship to attention task performance. Results indicated a gradient of influence, with each standard deviation increase in the level of prenatal cocaine exposure relating to a 16% standard deviation increase in omission error scores at age 7. Overall findings support a stable cocaine-specific effect on indicators of sustained attention processing during the early childhood years. Results are discussed within the context of neurobiological and behavioral research linking prenatal cocaine exposure to long-lasting disruption of the brain systems subserving arousal and attention.[1]


  1. Longitudinal investigation of task persistence and sustained attention in children with prenatal cocaine exposure. Bandstra, E.S., Morrow, C.E., Anthony, J.C., Accornero, V.H., Fried, P.A. Neurotoxicology and teratology. (2001) [Pubmed]
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