Health and Human Services Department officials estimated it will cost $5 billion annually to provide the 100,000 "crack babies" born each year with hospital services and foster care through age 5.

A report released by HHS Inspector General Richard Kusserow suggested Wednesday that the cost could reach $20 billion a year if all babies exposed to cocaine in the womb were given the health care they need after leaving the hospital and the help necessary to prepare them for school.The cost of caring for the babies after age 5 "will also be substantial," the study said. It quoted one official as saying, "Even if we stopped crack use right now, we would still be dealing with its effects in some way for the next 50 to 75 years. The ramifications are forever."