Psychopharmacologic treatment of children prenatally exposed to drugs of abuse

Leslie A. Hulvershorn, Kristen M. Schroeder, Logan K. Wink, Craig A. Erickson, Christopher J. McDougle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Objective This pilot study compared the pharmacologic treatment history and clinical outcomes observed in pediatric outpatients with psychiatric disorders exposed to drugs of abuse in utero to those of an age-matched, sex-matched and psychiatric disorder-matched, non-drug-exposed group. Methods In this matched cohort study, medical records of children treated at an academic, child and adolescent psychiatry outpatient clinic were reviewed. Children with caregiver-reported history of prenatal drug exposure were compared with a non-drug-exposed control group being cared for by the same providers. Patients were rated with the Clinical Global Impressions - Severity scale (CGI-S) throughout treatment. The changes in pre-treatment and post-treatment CGI-S scores and the total number of medication trials were determined between groups. Results The drug-exposed group (n=30) had a higher total number of lifetime medication trials compared with the non-drug-exposed group (n=28) and were taking significantly more total medications, at their final assessment. Unlike the non-drug-exposed group, the drug-exposed group demonstrated a lack of clinical improvement. Conclusions These results suggest that in utero drug-exposed children may be more treatment-refractory to or experience greater side effects from the pharmacologic treatment of psychiatric disorders than controls, although we cannot determine if early environment or drugs exposure drives these findings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)164-172
Number of pages9
JournalHuman Psychopharmacology
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2015


  • children
  • prenatal drug exposure
  • psychopharmacology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Neurology
  • Pharmacology (medical)

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