Interactions between maternal characteristics and neonatal behavior in the prediction of parenting stress and perception of infant temperament

Stephen J. Sheinkopf, Barry M. Lester, Linda L. LaGasse, Ron Seifer, Charles R. Bauer, Seetha Shankaran, Henrietta S. Bada, W. Kenneth Poole, Linda L. Wright

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Background: Prenatal cocaine exposure is a marker of developmental risk. Social environmental risk factors may include maternal stress and maternal perceptions of difficult infant temperament. Objectives: To examine factors that may predict or moderate maternal ratings of parenting stress and difficult temperament in cocaine-exposed (CE) infants. Method: Neonatal behavior, infant temperament, parenting stress, and maternal psychopathology were measured in a large sample of infant-mother dyads with prenatal CE and a nonexposed comparison sample. Participants were drawn from an existing longitudinal data set (Maternal Lifestyle Study). Result: Relations between neonatal behavior and infant temperament ratings were moderated by mothers' ratings of parenting stress. Relations between neonatal cry and parenting stress were moderated by maternal psychopathology ratings. Results were unrelated to drug exposure history. Conclusions: For mothers of at risk infants (with or without prenatal CE), psychological distress affects the degree to which infant behavioral characteristics are experienced as stressful or difficult. Implications for treatment and outcome are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-40
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Pediatric Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2006

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by the National Institute on Child Health and Human Development through cooperative agreements (U10 HD 27904; U10 HD 21397; U10 HD 21385; U10 HD 27856; U10 HD 19897), NICHD contract HD 23159, Intra-agency agreements with the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), Administration for Youth and Families (ACYF) and the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT), and a National Research Service Award from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (1 F32 DA05971-01).


  • Cocaine
  • Parenting stress
  • Temperament

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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