Biological markers and social differentiation: crack babies and the construction of the dangerous mother
Litt J, McNeil M
Department of Sociology,
Iowa State University,
Ames 50011, USA.
Health Care Women Int 1997 Jan-Feb; 18(1):31-41


Crack mothers-particularly African American and Latina women-have been constructed as maternal villains who actively and permanently damage their offspring. Many women have been arrested or lost parental rights to their children because of child neglect charges. Despite this panic, recent medical and legal research indicates that reports of damage to the fetus have been greatly exaggerated. This article examines the ongoing questions in medical publications about crack babies. The authors connect the search for biological markers of cocaine use during pregnancy to a new cultural conception of a bio-underclass. The conclusion considers medical developments and controversies in the broader context of class and racial divisions and reproductive politics in the United States.

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