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Speech, Language, and Learning Difficulties Associated With Prenatal Drug Exposure

Many types of prenatal drug exposure, even to substances that may be considered acceptable (such as caffeine), are recognized to have a deleterious effect on infants during prenatal development. This entry focuses on prenatal exposure to drugs, discussing how it relates to speech, language, and learning difficulties in the child.

Although it once was thought that the placenta served as a barrier that protected a fetus from the harmful effects of all outside agents, it is now known that this is not the case. The placenta plays a critical role in fetal development and survival. Its function is to provide the fetus with oxygen, nutrients, and glucose; remove metabolic wastes; and protect the baby from certain types of infectious diseases. The placenta is attached to the ...

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