Try our beta test site
IMPORTANT: Listing of a study on this site does not reflect endorsement by the National Institutes of Health. Talk with a trusted healthcare professional before volunteering for a study. Read more...

Prenatal Drug Exposure: Effects on the Adolescent Brain and Behavior Development

This study has been completed.
Information provided by:
National Institutes of Health Clinical Center (CC) Identifier:
First received: November 24, 2009
Last updated: January 24, 2017
Last verified: July 13, 2011


- Recent research has suggested that prenatal exposure to drugs may affect specific brain processes, including working memory, stress response, and decision making. However, most of the research on the effects of prenatal drug exposure in humans has been conducted early in life, and very little is known about effects of prenatal drug exposure during the crucial brain development period that takes place during puberty and adolescence. The biological and psychological changes associated with puberty may increase adolescents' sensitivity to prenatal substance exposure. Researchers are interested in using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans to study brain function and learn more about the effects of prenatal drug exposure on adolescents.


- To examine the effects of prenatal substance exposure on working memory, decision making, and normal brain activity in adolescents.


- Adolescents between 12 and 17 years of age who are enrolled in a larger follow-up study of children exposed to drugs in utero.


  • The study will involve a single outpatient session with two fMRI scans that will test working memory and decision-making processes.
  • Participants will have brief medical history, a physical examination, and a urine test for drugs of abuse.
  • Participants will then be trained on the working memory and decision-making tasks before having an initial MRI scan to provide a baseline reading.
  • The fMRI scans will take 40 to 45 minutes each, and participants will have break in between as needed.

Drug Abuse
Prenatal Drug Exposure

Study Type: Observational
Study Design: Time Perspective: Other
Official Title: Prenatal Drug Exposure: Effects on the Adolescent Brain and Behavior Development: Supplementary Control Subjects Recruitment

Further study details as provided by National Institutes of Health Clinical Center (CC):

Estimated Enrollment: 24
Study Start Date: October 16, 2009
Estimated Study Completion Date: July 13, 2011
Detailed Description:

Objective- To use fMRI to compare brain activity at rest and during working memory and decision making tasks in normal children and in children exposed in utero to drugs of abuse.

Study population- All participants will be 12-17 year-olds enrolled in an ongoing longitudinal follow up study of children exposed to drugs of abuse in utero funded by NIH. A subgroup of this study cohort will be invited to participate based on added criteria needed for scanning studies, such as absence of metal in the body, no significant CNS disease, and ability to tolerate the scanning environment.

Design- Participants will undergo fMRI scans while performing a working memory task, a decision making task and at rest. Data from participants in the current study will be combined with those from a previous study (NIDA protocol 417) which now reside in our repository protocol, 8002.

Outcome measures- The primary outcome measures will be the difference in BOLD fMRI activation between drug-exposed participants and those without prenatal exposure to drugs of abuse.


Ages Eligible for Study:   13 Years to 17 Years   (Child)
Sexes Eligible for Study:   All
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:   Yes

    1. Participants must be enrolled in the current UMB longitudinal study protocol.
    2. All participants will be between 12 and 17 years old (inclusive).
    3. All participants must be able to provide informed assent and have a parent/guardian who can provide informed consent.


  1. Report of a history of significant medical/neurological illness that might interfere with imaging data such as HIV positive status, cerebral vascular accident (CVA), central nervous system (CNS) tumor, head trauma, multiple sclerosis (MS) or other demyelinating diseases, epilepsy, or movement disorders.
  2. Metallic devices in the body that preclude MRI scanning, as determined by self and parent (guardian) report.
  3. Current use of psychotropic medication that may alter attentional functioning (e.g., Clonidine, antipsychotics, Effexor, stimulants).
  4. Currently using respiratory, cardiovascular, anticonvulsant or other medications that might interfere with the mechanisms producing the BOLD signal.
  5. Currently abusing street drugs as assessed by history and urine testing.
  6. Pregnancy, which will be assessed by history during screening and by urine testing on scan days.
  7. Claustrophobia by self and/or parent (guardian) report severe enough to preclude toleration of the scanning environment.
  Contacts and Locations
Choosing to participate in a study is an important personal decision. Talk with your doctor and family members or friends about deciding to join a study. To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the Contacts provided below. For general information, see Learn About Clinical Studies.

Please refer to this study by its identifier: NCT01020669

United States, Maryland
University of Maryland at Baltimore/MPRC
Catonsville, Maryland, United States, 21228
Sponsors and Collaborators
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
  More Information