Effects of prenatal cocaine/polydrug exposure on substance use by age 15

Sonia Minnes, Lynn Singer, Meeyoung O. Min, Miaoping Wu, Adelaide Lang, Susan Yoon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


Objective: Examined effects of prenatal cocaine exposure (PCE) on tobacco, alcohol, marijuana and cocaine use by age 15. Methods: Adolescent (n= 358; 183 PCE, 175 non-prenatally cocaine exposed; NCE) drug use was assessed using urine, hair, and/or blood spot samples and self-report (Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System; YRBSS) at ages 12 and 15. Logistic regression assessed effects of PCE on drug use controlling for other drug exposures, environment and blood lead levels (BLL). Results: Adjusted percentages of drug use (PCE vs. NCE) were: tobacco 35% vs. 26% (p<. .04), marijuana 33% vs. 23% (p<. .04), alcohol 40% vs. 35% (p<. .01), and any drugs 59% vs. 50% (p<. .005). PCE adolescents were twice as likely to use tobacco (OR. = 2.02, 95% CI. = 1.05-3.90, p<. .04), 2.2 times more likely to use alcohol (OR. = 2.16, 95% CI. = 1.21-3.87, p<. .01) and 1.8 times more likely to use marijuana (OR. = 1.81, 95% CI. = 1.02-3.22, p<. .04) than NCE adolescents. A race-by-cocaine-exposure interaction (p<. .01) indicated PCE non-African American adolescents had greater probability of tobacco use (65%) than NCE non-African American youth (21%). PCE was associated with any drug use (OR. = 2.16, CI. = 1.26-3.69, p<. .005), while higher BLL predicted alcohol use (p<. .001). Violence exposure was a predictor of tobacco (p<. .002), marijuana (p<. .0007) and any drug (p<. .04). Conclusions: PCE and exposure to violence increased the likelihood of tobacco, marijuana or any drug use by age 15, while PCE and higher early BLL predicted alcohol use. Prevention efforts should target high risk groups prior to substance use initiation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)201-210
Number of pages10
JournalDrug and Alcohol Dependence
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) R01 07957.


  • Adolescent substance use
  • Lead
  • Prenatal cocaine exposure
  • Violence


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