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Schoolchildren born of heroin dependent mothers

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A report from Jerusalem (

) has shown the effects of maternal heroin dependency on school age children. The study included 65 children born to heroin dependent mothers, 34 of whom had been adopted. They were compared with 33 children of heroin dependent fathers, 32 children with environmental deprivation but no parental addiction, and 30 control children. All children in the study were aged 5–12 years and attending mainstream schools. The children of heroin dependent mothers raised at home were of low gestational age (mean 35 weeks) and birthweight (mean 2410 g). On tests of verbal and performance skills, reading, and arithmetic the environmentally deprived, drug dependent father, and home-raised drug dependent mother groups all did significantly worse than the control group. The adopted children born of drug dependent mothers, however, performed normally apart from poor performance skills. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) was common among all children of heroin dependent parents and among environmentally deprived children, but commonest among home raised children of heroin dependent mothers. These mothers also had a high rate of childhood ADHD.

The children of drug dependent parents performed poorly at school when raised at home. Those adopted at an early age performed almost normally. ADHD was common in the children and their mothers.