The effect of parenting stress on child behavior problems in high-risk children with prenatal drug exposure

Daniel M. Bagner, Stephen J. Sheinkopf, Cynthia Miller-Loncar, Linda L. LaGasse, Barry M. Lester, Jing Liu, Charles R. Bauer, Seetha Shankaran, Henrietta Bada, Abhik Das

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


Objective: To examine the relationship between early parenting stress and later child behavior in a high-risk sample and measure the effect of drug exposure on the relationship between parenting stress and child behavior. Methods: A subset of child-caregiver dyads (n = 607) were selected from the Maternal Lifestyle Study (MLS), which is a large sample of children (n = 1,388) with prenatal cocaine exposure and a comparison sample unexposed to cocaine. Of the 607 dyads, 221 were prenatally exposed to cocaine and 386 were unexposed to cocaine. Selection was based on the presence of a stable caregiver at 4 and 36 months with no evidence of change in caregiver between those time points. Results: Parenting stress at 4 months significantly predicted child externalizing behavior at 36 months. These relations were unaffected by cocaine exposure suggesting the relationship between parenting stress and behavioral outcome exists for high-risk children regardless of drug exposure history. Conclusions: These results extend the findings of the relationship between parenting stress and child behavior to a sample of high-risk children with prenatal drug exposure. Implications for outcome and treatment are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73-84
Number of pages12
JournalChild Psychiatry and Human Development
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2009

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgements This study was supported by the National Institute on Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) 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 Children and Families (ACF), and the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT).


  • Cocaine
  • Disruptive behavior
  • High-risk children
  • Parenting stress
  • Prenatal drug exposure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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