Today's Science Times -Finally!

Today's New York Times story, The Epidemic That Wasn't, advances our efforts to challenge the junk science that has been used to justify the prosecution and punishment of pregnant women and their families. We are very pleased that many of the experts quoted in the story are speaking at our upcoming February 11, 2009 program: Drugs, Pregnancy and Parenting: What the Experts in Medicine, Social Work and the Law Have to Say.

While I wish the story appeared 20 years ago, it gets an awful lot right. One thing it got wrong though is the caption to the picture accompanying the story. The caption for the photo describes it as "a 1988 photo, testing a baby addicted to cocaine." Ahh, the intransigence of misinformation. It is ironic indeed, that the story, designed to debunk much of the junk science and media hype with regard to the effects of prenatal exposure to drugs, includes rank misinformation in the picture caption. In 2004, every leading researcher in the field joined a letter to none other than the New York Times and other media outlets asking them to stop using the term "crack baby" and specifically explaining that:

The term “crack addicted baby” is no less defensible. Addiction is a technical term that refers to compulsive behavior that continues in spite of adverse consequences. By definition, babies cannot be “addicted” to crack or anything else. In utero physiologic dependence on opiates (not addiction), known as Neonatal Narcotic Abstinence Syndrome, is readily diagnosed, but no such symptoms have been found to occur following prenatal cocaine exposure."

I also have to point out that the story suggests that the prosecution of pregnant women ended in the new millennium. We really wish that were true.

Finally, in conjunction with our upcoming program, NAPW has posted a lecture by Judy Murphy, founder of Moms Off Meth. The video quality is not the best, but the information is so clear, accessible and important, that anyone interested in learning how we can really help pregnant women and families will watch and listen.

Hope to see you on February 11!

Lynn Paltrow,
Executive Director