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The purpose of this study was to investigate the role of prenatal drug exposure on birth weight, birth length, head circumference, Apgar scores, length of gestation, and motor development (Psychomotor Development Index, PDI) scores. A meta-analytic review was conducted on 56 studies published between 1979 and June 25, 1993. There were 294 effect sizes computed using the means and standard deviations reported in each study. The composite effect sizes calculated for the growth and motor development variables were (a) –.55, p <.01, birth weight; (b) –.74, p < .01, birth length; (c) –.79, p < .01, head circumference; (d) –.45, p < .01, 1-min Apgar score; (e) –.62, p <.01, 5-min Apgar score; (f) –.36, p < .01, length of gestation; (g) –.07, p = .55, PDI score (3 months); (h) –.35, p <.01, PDI score (6 months); (i) –.74, p < .01, PDI score (12 months); (j) –.44, p <.01, PDI score (18 months); and (k) –.23, p <.01, PDI score (24 months). The results of this investigation demonstrated that the use/abuse of illicit substances, alcohol, or both by the mother does significantly affect the physical and motor development of neonates/infants exposed in utero.
Susan J. Tarr is with the Department of Health & Physical Education, University of Wisconsin at Platteville, 1 University Plaza, Platteville, WI 53818. Jean L. Pyfer is with the Department of Kinesiology, Texas Woman’s University, Denton, TX 76204.