This study examined the impact of maternal cocaine use and associated risk factors such as polysubstance use, maternal functioning, and caregiving on affect regulation during infancy. Participants were 45 mother-infant dyads (19 cocaine exposed and 26 control infants) recruited at birth. Observations and maternal reports of infant behavior were obtained at 2 and 7 months of age, along with measures of pre- and postnatal substance use, maternal functioning, and caregiving stability. Maternal cocaine use accounted for significant variance in infant positive affect at 2 months. Other substance use and gestational age predicted infant distress to novelty and arousal during developmental assessments. At 7 months, the impact of prenatal cocaine exposure on infant affect regulation was mediated by postnatal alcohol use and caregiving stability. These findings, if replicated, suggest that 1 pathway to later problem behavior reported among substance-exposed children may be through early regulatory problems and the quality of postnatal caregiving.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Developmental and Educational Psychology