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Pregnant monkeys on crack - boffins investigate

Womb-coked simians in banana-pellet munchies frenzy

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Scientists in America have warned of a new threat to society, posed by a generation of middle-aged drug-addled monkeys with poor impulse control due to being exposed to cocaine in the womb 15 years ago.

In the words of a searing announcement issued today by the Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center:

Adult male monkeys exposed to cocaine while in the womb have poor impulse control and may be more vulnerable to drug abuse than female monkeys, even a decade or more after the exposure, according to a new study by researchers at Wake Forest University School of Medicine.

It seems, for reasons which aren't adequately explored in the Wake Forest announcement, that back in 1994 a number of pregnant monkeys were furnished with supplies of cocaine by unidentified scientists. The offspring of these showbiz-lifestyled simian mums have now reached "the equivalent of middle age for monkeys", according to Lindsey Hamilton, grad student researcher at the Wake Forest labs.

And yet, despite being old enough to have long left their hellraising young monkey-about-town years behind them, the primates whose mothers had received regular visits from Mr Snowman still "had no patience or impulse control whatsoever," according to Hamilton.

Among other tests, this was demonstrated by giving the foetally-drugged monkeys a choice of levers to pull. One would deliver a small snacky treat, described as a "banana pellet reward", at once. If the other was pulled, there was a short wait followed by a jackpot of pelletised fruit - such that over time one would get much more processed banana nuggets by pulling the second lever.

Nonetheless, the monkey-on-your-back monkeys always chose the first lever, slaves to irresistible munchy craving short-termism; while regular monkeys whose mums hadn't put half of Peckham up their hooters were quite capable of playing the long game. Interestingly, the long-delayed effects of pre-natal Charlie occurred only in males - females whose mothers had been coked to the eyeballs seemed as sensible as any other middle-aged monkey.

Hamilton and her colleagues believe that the total loss of self-discipline among the dope-mum males may mean that they are likelier to get hooked on drugs themselves. They are carrying out tests even now involving offers of coke to their different simian test subjects.

The idea of the research is to gain insights into the behaviour of human drug addicts. Though some might say that it'd be possible to make an educated guess about the likely future drug habits of those born to crack-using mothers without handing out freebies to monkeys. ®

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