ABOUT THOSE CRACK BABIES

By Harold Pollack

Tuesday's New York Times includes a nice story “The epidemic that wasn’t” recounting the crack baby scare of two decades ago. Quoting distinguished experts such as Brown University’s Barry Lester and Boston University’s Deborah Frank, Times reporter Susan Okie recounts that sorry history, in which real medical uncertainty, media sensationalism, and the race-culture politics of the drug war combined to produce a harmful panic. If you want to get this story, Laura Gomez’s Misconceiving Mothers remains an essential source. There are some interesting byways, such as the pervasive reluctance of juries to convict women prosecuted for their prenatal drug use.

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