Motor Development of Infants Subject to Maternal Drug Use: Current Evidence and Future Research Strategies

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Bryant J. Cratty University of California, Los Angeles

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Literature alludes to tremulousness, hypertonicity, and hypotonicity as well as other signs of atypical motor development in infants exposed prenatally to cocaine and other drugs. Some have hypothesized that movement aberrations brought about by exposure to abusive substances during the prenatal period have developmental significance. The pervasive nature of the problem, together with the unique developmental characteristics that present themselves, suggest the need for innovative research and new assessment tools. This paper reviews the available evidence and suggests new research strategies together with innovative evaluative instruments compatible with the characteristics of neonates, infants, and children stressed prenatally with noxious biochemical environments produced by maternal drug use. Neurological implications for the appearance and disappearance of abnormal movement characteristics are also contained in the review.

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