Effects of prenatal substance exposure on infant temperament vary by context

Robin L. Locke, Linda L. LaGasse, Ronald Seifer, Barry M. Lester, Seetha Shankaran, Henrietta S. Bada, Charles R. Bauer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


This was a prospective longitudinal multisite study of the effects of prenatal cocaine and/or opiate exposure on temperament in 4-month-olds of the Maternal Lifestyle Study (N = 958: 366 cocaine exposed, 37 opiate exposed, 33 exposed to both drugs, 522 matched comparison). The study evaluated positivity and negativity during The Behavior Assessment of Infant Temperament (Garcia Coll et al., 1988). Parents rated temperament (Infant Behavior Questionnaire; Rothbart, 1981). Cocaine-exposed infants showed less positivity overall, mainly during activity and threshold items, more negativity during sociability items, and less negativity during irritability and threshold items. Latent profile analysis indicated individual temperament patterns were best described by three groups: low/moderate overall reactivity, high social negative reactivity, and high nonsocial negative reactivity. Infants with heavy cocaine exposure were more likely in high social negative reactivity profile, were less negative during threshold items, and required longer soothing intervention. Cocaine- and opiate-exposed infants scored lower on Infant Behavior Questionnaire smiling and laughter and duration of orienting scales. Opiate-exposed infants were rated as less respondent to soothing. By including a multitask measure of temperament we were able to show context-specific behavioral dysregulation in prenatally cocaine-exposed infants. The findings indicate flatter temperament may be specific to nonsocial contexts, whereas social interactions may be more distressing for cocaine-exposed infants.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)309-326
Number of pages18
JournalDevelopment and Psychopathology
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) Neonatal Research Network and an interinstitute agreement with the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) through cooperative agreements U10-DA-024119-01 and U10-HD-27904 (to B.M.L.), U10-DA-024117-01 and U10-HD-21385 (to S.S.), U10-DA-024128-06 and U10-HD-2786 (to H.S.B.), and U10- DA-024118-01 and U10-HD-21397 (to C.R.B.); and NICHD contract N01-HD-2-3159 (to B.M.L.); with supplemental funding from the NIMH, Administration on Children, Youth, and Families, and the Center for Substance Abuse and Treatment, US Department of Health and Human Services. We extend great appreciation to all of the mothers and infants who participated in this study and our medical and nursing colleagues. In addition to those listed as authors, the following individuals and federal funding grants contributed to this study: Brown University, Warren Alpert Medical School Women & Infants Hospital of Rhode Island (U10 HD27904, N01 HD23159) to Cynthia Miller-Loncar, Jean Twomey, Laura Dietz, and Melissa Kupchak; NIDA to Vincent L. Smeriglio and Nicolette Borek; RTI International (U10 HD36790) to W. Kenneth Poole, Abhik Das, and Debra Fleischmann; University of Miami Holtz Children's Hospital (GCRC M01RR16587, U10 HD21397) to Ann L. Graziotti, Tonya Barriere-Perez, Janine Closius, Diedre Gallop, Edgar Garcia, Susan Gauthier,Wendy Griffin, Elizabeth Jacque, Jennifer Lewis, Daniel A. Messinger, and Yamille Valdez; University of Tennessee (U10 HD42638) to Charlotte Bursi, Deloris Lee, and Lillie Hughey; and Wayne State University HutzelWomen's Hospital and Children's Hospital of Michigan (U10 HD21385) to EuniceWoldt, Jay Ann Nelson, Catherine Bartholomay, Lisa Sulkowski, and Nicole Walker.

Publisher Copyright:
© Cambridge University Press 2015.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


Dive into the research topics of 'Effects of prenatal substance exposure on infant temperament vary by context'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this