The purpose of this study was to examine the moderating role of maternal sensitivity on the association between prenatal adversity and externalizing behaviors at 24 months of age in a diverse, high-risk sample. We hypothesized that among children with higher prenatal adversity, high maternal sensitivity would serve as a protective factor. Participants were 247 primarily low-income, diverse dyads. Results indicated a significant interaction effect of maternal sensitivity and prenatal adversity on externalizing problems. The association between prenatal adversity and externalizing behaviors was significant only among children who experienced low prenatal adversity, with higher maternal sensitivity associated with lower externalizing behaviors. These findings indicate that, in the absence of high prenatal risk, responsive and sensitive parenting can buffer children in an otherwise high-risk sample from the development of externalizing behaviors.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Psychiatry and Mental health