Drug addiction is a chronic relapsing disorder that involves drug seeking and abuse despite the negative social and health consequences. While the potential effects of cocaine on child development have been extensively studied over the last 30 years, few researchers have focused on the effects of cocaine on maternal behavior, which includes offspring care and maternal aggression towards an unfamiliar individual. In humans, maternal cocaine use can lead to child neglect, abuse, and disrupt the mother-child bond. While it has been argued the developmental effects of maternal cocaine use on children were initially overstated, it is clear that disruptions of typical maternal behavior (i.e. postpartum depression, anxiety disorders) are detrimental to the physical and emotional health of offspring. Cocaine use in mothers is commonly associated with psychological disorders, including depression and anxiety, and it is postulated that many of the negative effects of maternal cocaine use on offspring are mediated through changes in maternal behavior. This review will summarize research on cocaine and maternal behavior in animal and human studies, discuss potential mechanisms, and suggest therapeutic strategies for treating cocaine-affected maternal behavior which may improve the physical and behavioral health of both mother and child. The primary objective is to stimulate future communication, cooperation, and collaboration between researchers who use animals and humans to study cocaine and maternal behavior.
Keywords: Cocaine, maternal behavior, aggression, vasopressin, oxytocin, dopamine, serotonin, depression, anxiety, stress
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