This study is the first to show that maternal drug use during pregnancy alters the brain's functional organisation in newborns," said one of the corresponding authors of the study Wei Gao, assistant professor of radiology in the University of North Carolina School of Medicine in the US.

The study found disruptions in functional connectivity within part of the amygdala-prefrontal network. In the study, 152 infants were given resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging  scans. Of these, 45 had prenatal exposure to cocaine, 43 had prenatal exposure to drugs other than cocaine, and 64 had no known prenatal drug exposure.

Alterations in the brain's functional organisation were found in both groups that had prenatal drug exposure. The group with prenatal cocaine exposure had additional alterations that the other drug control group did not have. The study appeared in the Journal of Neuroscience.

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