Executive Functioning at Ages 5 and 7 Years in Children With Prenatal Cocaine Exposure

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This prospective longitudinal study evaluated the effect of prenatal cocaine exposure (PCE) on executive functioning in 5- and 7-year-old children. In total, 154 pregnant cocaine users, identified by urine toxicology and structured interviews, were matched to 154 nonusers. Children were assessed by certified masked evaluators, and caregivers were interviewed by experienced staff during home visits. In approximately 90% of the surviving sample tested at ages 5 and 7 years, structural equation modeling demonstrated that an increased head circumference at birth (adjusted for gestation) significantly predicted better performance on executive functioning, and that PCE was indirectly related to executive functioning through its significant negative effect on head circumference at birth. At age 5 years, quality of environment also predicted executive functioning, and the R2 for the total model was 0.24. At 7 years, caregiver functioning predicted quality of environment, which in turn was positively related to executive functioning, and girls had better executive functioning. The total model at age 7 years accounted for 30% of the variance in executive functioning.