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1.  Importance of Stability of Early Living Arrangements on Behavior Outcomes of Children With and Without Prenatal Drug Exposure 
We evaluated whether living arrangements of children with or without prenatal drug exposure would be associated with their behavior outcomes and adaptive functioning.
1388 children with or without prenatal cocaine or opiate exposure were enrolled in a longitudinal cohort study at one month of age, were seen at intervals, tracked over time for their living situation, and evaluated for behavior problems and adaptive functioning at three years of age. Child Behavior Check List and Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales (VABS) were administered. Using multiple regression models, we determined the factors that would predict behavior problems and adaptive functioning.
1,092 children were evaluated. Total and externalizing behavior problems T scores of children in relative care were lower (better) than those in parental; externalizing behavior scores were lower than those in non-relative care (p<0.05). Total behavior problem scores increased 2.3 and 1.3 points respectively with each move/year and each year of Child Protective Services’ involvement. Compared to children in non-relative care, those in parental or relative care had higher (better) scores in the VABS total composite (p<0.023), communication (p<0.045), and daily living (p<0.001). Each caretaker change was associated with a decrease of 2.65 and 2.19 points respectively in communication and daily living scores.
Children’s living arrangements were significantly associated with childhood behavior problems and adaptive functioning. The instability of living situation was also a significant predictor of these outcomes. While family preservation continues to be the goal of the child welfare system, expediting decision toward permanency remains paramount once children are placed in foster care.
PMCID: PMC3984541  PMID: 18349707
Prenatal cocaine; prenatal opiate; out-of-home-care; child behavior
2.  Predictors of Inadequate Prenatal Care in Methamphetamine-Using Mothers in New Zealand and the United States 
Maternal and child health journal  2013;17(3):566-575.
This study compared patterns of prenatal care among mothers who used methamphetamine (MA) during pregnancy and non-using mothers in the US and New Zealand (NZ), and evaluated associations among maternal drug use, child protective services (CPS) referral, and inadequate prenatal care in both countries. The sample consisted of 182 mothers in the MA-Exposed and 196 in the Comparison groups in the US, and 107 mothers in the MA-Exposed and 112 in the Comparison groups in NZ. Positive toxicology results and/or maternal report of MA use during pregnancy were used to identify MA use. Information about sociodemographics, prenatal care and prenatal substance use was collected by maternal interview. MA-use during pregnancy is associated with lower socio-economic status, single marital status, and CPS referral in both NZ and the US. Compared to their non-using counterparts, MA-using mothers in the US had significantly higher rates of inadequate prenatal care. No association was found between inadequate care and MA-use in NZ. In the US, inadequate prenatal care was associated with CPS referral, but not in NZ. Referral to CPS for drug use only composed 40 % of all referrals in the US, but only 15 % of referrals in NZ. In our study population, prenatal MA-use and CPS referral eclipse maternal sociodemographics in explanatory power for inadequate prenatal care. The predominant effect of CPS referral in the US is especially interesting, and should encourage further research on whether the US policy of mandatory reporting discourages drug-using mothers from seeking antenatal care.
PMCID: PMC3717345  PMID: 22588827
Methamphetamine; Adequate prenatal care; New Zealand; Kessner Index; Child protective services
3.  Placental miRNA Expression Profiles Associated with Measures of Infant Neurobehavioral Outcomes 
Pediatric research  2013;74(3):272-278.
A growing body of research suggests that the intrauterine environment influences fetal neurodevelopment by altering the functional placental epigenome. A number of miRNAs are expressed in the placenta, may be sensitive to dysregulation by environmental exposures, and are associated with adverse pregnancy outcomes. Our study aimed to identify relationships between placental miRNA expression and newborn neurobehavior.
We examined the association between the expression of miR-16, miR-21, miR-93, miR-135b, miR-146a, and miR-182 in total RNA from the placentas of 86 term infants as measured by quantitative real-time PCR and newborn neurobehavioral outcomes as assessed using the NICU Network Neurobehavioral Scales (NNNS).
Bivariate analysis revealed that placental miR-16 expression is negatively associated with attention score (p=0.006), while expression of miR-146a and miR-182 are both positively associated with quality of movement score (p=0.016 and p=0.016, respectively). Controlling for potential confounders, high miR-16 expression is significantly associated with reduced attention score (p=0.04), and high miR-146a expression and high miR-182 expression are significantly associated with increased quality of movement score (p=0.04 and p=0.01, respectively).
These results suggest that placental miRNA expression is associated with early neurobehavioral outcomes and miRNAs in the placenta may contribute to the developmental origins of infant neurobehavior.
PMCID: PMC3766495  PMID: 23783433
4.  Co-morbidity of substance use disorder and psychopathology in women who use methamphetamine during pregnancy in the US and New Zealand 
Drug and alcohol dependence  2012;127(1-3):101-107.
Methamphetamine (MA) abuse is a worldwide problem. Little is known about the co-morbidity of substance use disorders (SUD) and other psychiatric disorders of mothers who use MA prenatally. The Infant Development, Environment and Lifestyle (IDEAL) Study is a prospective, investigation of prenatal MA use and child outcome in the United States (US) and New Zealand (NZ). This study examined prenatal MA use and the co-morbidity of SUD and psychiatric disorders at 1-month postpartum.
Mothers who used MA (US = 127, NZ = 97) were compared to a matched comparison group (US = 193, NZ = 110). The Substance Abuse Subtle Screening Inventory-3 was used to measure the probability of a SUD. The Brief Symptom Inventory was used to measure the likelihood of a positive diagnosis of a psychiatric disorder.
In US and NZ, the MA groups had lower SES, increased single parenting, delayed prenatal care, increased polydrug use. In the US only, MA mothers had lower income than the comparison group. MA users were 10 times more likely to have a SUD and twice as likely to meet Brief Symptom Inventory criteria for a diagnosable psychiatric disorder. In NZ, but not the US, MA users were five times more likely have co-morbidity of both. This disparity may be due to higher quantities of prenatal alcohol use associated with increased psychiatric symptoms.
These findings suggest that addressing both substance abuse and psychiatric disorders in mothers who use MA may be required to effectively treat maternal MA use.
PMCID: PMC3498544  PMID: 22789630
Methamphetamine; Maternal Drug Use; Comorbidity; Substance Use Disorder; Psychiatric Disorder
5.  Prenatal Methamphetamine Exposure, Home Environment, and Primary Caregiver Risk Factors Predict Child Behavioral Problems at 5 Years 
This study investigated the prospective association between prenatal methamphetamine (MA) exposure and child behavioral problems at 5 years while also examining the home environment at 30 months and several primary caregiver (PC) risk factors. Participants were 97 MA-exposed and 117 comparison children and their PCs enrolled in the Infant Development, Environment and Lifestyle Study. Hypotheses were that child behaviors would be adversely impacted by (a) prenatal MA exposure, (b) home environments that provided less developmental stimulation and emotional responsiveness to the child, and (c) the presence of PC psychological symptoms and other risk factors. Prenatal MA exposure was associated with child externalizing behavioral problems at 5 years. Home environments that were more conducive to meeting children’s developmental and emotional needs were associated with fewer internalizing and externalizing behavioral problems. Independent of prenatal MA exposure, PC parenting stress and psychological symptoms were associated with increased child behavioral problems. Findings suggest prenatal MA exposure may contribute to externalizing behavioral problems in early childhood and the importance of considering possible vulnerabilities related to prenatal MA exposure in the context of the child’s caregiving environment.
PMCID: PMC3721329  PMID: 23330624
infants; children; pregnant women; methamphetamine use; prenatal substance exposure; primary caregiver; caregiving environment; parenting stress
6.  The Effect of Prenatal Methamphetamine Exposure on Attention as Assessed by Continuous Performance Tests: Results from the Infant Development, Environment, and Lifestyle (IDEAL) Study 
The purpose of this study is to assess for increased risk of attention deficit hyperactivity problem in young children with prenatal methamphetamine exposure from the multicenter, longitudinal Infant Development, Environment, and Lifestyle (IDEAL) study.
IDEAL enrolled 412 mother-infant pairs at four sites (Tulsa, OK; Des Moines, IA; Los Angeles, CA; and Honolulu, HI). Methamphetamine exposed subjects (n=204) were identified by self-report and/or gas chromatography/mass spectrometry confirmation of amphetamine and metabolites in infant meconium. Matched subjects (n=208) denied methamphetamine use and had a negative meconium screen. This analysis includes a subsample of 301 subjects that were administered the Conners’ Kiddie Continuous Performance Test (K-CPT) at age 5.5 years (153 exposed, 148 comparison). Hierarchical linear models adjusted for covariates tested exposure effects on K-CPT measures. Using the same covariates, logistic regression was used to determine the effect of exposure on the incidence of a positive ADHD confidence index score, defined as greater than 50%.
There were no differences between the groups in omission or commission errors or reaction time for correct trials. However, methamphetamine exposure was associated with subtle differences in other outcomes predictive of ADHD, including increased slope of reaction time across blocks (p<0.001), increased variability in reaction time with longer interstimulus intervals (p<0.01), and increased likelihood of greater than 50% on the ADHD confidence index (OR 3.1, 95% CI 1.2–7.8; p=0.02).
Prenatal methamphetamine exposure was associated with subtle differences in K-CPT scores at age 5.5 years. Even at this relatively young age, these children exhibit indicators of risk for ADHD and warrant monitoring.
PMCID: PMC3800474  PMID: 23275056
7.  Protective Factors Can Mitigate Behavior Problems After Prenatal Cocaine and Other Drug Exposures 
Pediatrics  2012;130(6):e1479-e1488.
We determined the role of risk and protective factors on the trajectories of behavior problems associated with high prenatal cocaine exposure (PCE)/polydrug exposure.
The Maternal Lifestyle Study enrolled 1388 children with or without PCE, assessed through age 15 years. Because most women using cocaine during pregnancy also used other substances, we analyzed for the effects of 4 categories of prenatal drug exposure: high PCE/other drugs (OD), some PCE/OD, OD/no PCE, and no PCE/no OD. Risks and protective factors at individual, family, and community levels that may be associated with behavior outcomes were entered stepwise into latent growth curve models, then replaced by cumulative risk and protective indexes, and finally by a combination of levels of risk and protective indexes. Main outcome measures were the trajectories of externalizing, internalizing, total behavior, and attention problems scores from the Child Behavior Checklist (parent).
A total of 1022 (73.6%) children had known outcomes. High PCE/OD significantly predicted externalizing, total, and attention problems when considering the balance between risk and protective indexes. Some PCE/OD predicted externalizing and attention problems. OD/no PCE also predicted behavior outcomes except for internalizing behavior. High level of protective factors was associated with declining trajectories of problem behavior scores over time, independent of drug exposure and risk index scores.
High PCE/OD is a significant risk for behavior problems in adolescence; protective factors may attenuate its detrimental effects. Clinical practice and public health policies should consider enhancing protective factors while minimizing risks to improve outcomes of drug-exposed children.
PMCID: PMC3507246  PMID: 23184114
behavior problems; cumulative risks; prenatal cocaine exposure; protective factors
8.  Perceived Child Behavior Problems, Parenting Stress, and Maternal Depressive Symptoms Among Prenatal Methamphetamine Users 
The present study was designed to examine parenting stress, maternal depressive symptoms, and perceived child behavior problems among mothers who used methamphetamine (MA) during pregnancy. Participants were a subsample (n = 212; 75 exposed, 137 comparison) of biological mothers who had continuous custody of their child from birth to 36 months. The subsample was drawn from a larger, ongoing longitudinal study on the effects of prenatal methamphetamine exposure (n = 412; 204 exposed, 208 comparison) (Arria et al in Matern Child Health J 10:293–302 2006). Mothers who used MA during pregnancy reported more parenting stress and more depressive symptoms than a matched comparison group. There were no differences between groups on perceived child behavior problems. In a hierarchical linear model, depressive symptoms, and perceived child behavior problems, but not MA exposure, were statistically significant predictors of parenting stress. Screening for potential parenting problems among mothers with a history of substance abuse is warranted. Parenting interventions targeting depressive symptoms, parenting stress, and child behavior problems are needed for this population.
PMCID: PMC3717339  PMID: 22552952
Parenting stress; Prenatal drug exposure; Methamphetamine; Child behavior problems; Maternal depression
9.  Neurobehavioral Disinhibition Predicts Initiation of Substance Use in Children with Prenatal Cocaine Exposure 
Drug and alcohol dependence  2012;126(1-2):80-86.
In previous work we (Fisher et al., 2011) examined the emergence of neurobehavioral disinhibition (ND) in adolescents with prenatal substance exposure. We computed ND factor scores at three age points (8/9, 11 and 13/14 years) and found that both prenatal substance exposure and early adversity predicted ND. The purpose of the current study was to determine the association between these ND scores and initiation of substance use between ages 8–16 in this cohort as early initiation of substance use has been related to later substance use disorders. Our hypothesis was that prenatal cocaine exposure predisposes the child to ND, which, in turn, is associated with initiation of substance use by age 16.
We studied 386 cocaine exposed and 517 unexposed children followed since birth in a longitudinal study. Five dichotomous variables were computed based on the subject’s report of substance use: alcohol only; tobacco only; marijuana only; illicit substances and any substance.
Cox proportional hazard regression showed that the 8/9 year ND score was related to initiation of alcohol, tobacco, illicit and any substance use but not marijuana use. The trajectory of ND across the three age periods was related to substance use initiation in all five substance use categories. Prenatal cocaine exposure, although initially related to tobacco, marijuana and illicit substance initiation, was no longer significant with ND scores in the models.
Prenatal drug exposure appears to be a risk pathway to ND, which by 8/9 years portends substance use initiation.
PMCID: PMC3439586  PMID: 22608010
neurodevelopmental disinhibition; substance use initiation; prenatal cocaine exposure
10.  Atypical Cry Acoustics in 6-Month-Old Infants at Risk for Autism Spectrum Disorder 
This study examined differences in acoustic characteristics of infant cries in a sample of babies at risk for autism and a low-risk comparison group. Cry samples derived from vocal recordings of 6-month-old infants at risk for autism spectrum disorder (ASD; n = 21) and low-risk infants (n = 18) were subjected to acoustic analyses using analysis software designed for this purpose. Cries were categorized as either pain-related or non-pain-related based on videotape coding. At-risk infants produced pain-related cries with higher and more variable fundamental frequency (F0) than low-risk infants. At-risk infants later classified with ASD at 36 months had among the highest F0 values for both types of cries and produced cries that were more poorly phonated than those of nonautistic infants, reflecting cries that were less likely to be produced in a voiced mode. These results provide preliminary evidence that disruptions in cry acoustics may be part of an atypical vocal signature of autism in early life.
PMCID: PMC3517274  PMID: 22890558
autism; infancy; cry; vocalizations; acoustic analysis
11.  Parasympathetic Response Profiles Related to Social Functioning in Young Children with Autistic Disorder 
Autism Research and Treatment  2013;2013:868396.
Psychophysiology studies of heart rate and heart rate variability can be employed to study regulatory processes in children with autism. The objective of this study was to test for differences in respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA; a measure of heart rate variability) and to examine the relationship between physiologic responses and measures of social behavior. Participants included 2- to 6-year-old children with Autistic Disorder and children without autism. Heart rate and RSA were derived from ECG recordings made during a baseline period and then a stranger approach paradigm. Social and adaptive behavior was assessed by parent report. Groups did not differ in mean heart rate or RSA at baseline or in response to social challenge. However, children with autism were more likely to show a physiologic response to intrusive portions of the stranger approach than to less intrusive portions of this procedure. Nonautistic children were equally likely to respond to intrusive and less intrusive social events. Within the autistic group, physiologic response to the intrusive stranger approach corresponded to higher ratings of social adaptive behaviors. These results suggest that physiologic responses to social challenge may help understand differences in social behavioral outcomes in children with autism.
PMCID: PMC3794559  PMID: 24175094
12.  Behavioral epigenetics 
Sponsored by the New York Academy of Sciences, the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University and the University of Massachusetts Boston, “Behavioral Epigenetics” was held on October 29–30, 2010 at the University of Massachusetts Boston Campus Center, Boston, Massachusetts. This meeting featured speakers and panel discussions exploring the emerging field of behavioral epigenetics, from basic biochemical and cellular mechanisms to the epigenetic modulation of normative development, developmental disorders, and psychopathology. This report provides an overview of the research presented by leading scientists and lively discussion about the future of investigation at the behavioral epigenetic level.
PMCID: PMC3783959  PMID: 21615751
behavior; epigenetics; chromosome; gene regulation; transcription; methylation
13.  Patterning in Placental 11-B Hydroxysteroid Dehydrogenase Methylation According to Prenatal Socioeconomic Adversity 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e74691.
Prenatal socioeconomic adversity as an intrauterine exposure is associated with a range of perinatal outcomes although the explanatory mechanisms are not well understood. The development of the fetus can be shaped by the intrauterine environment through alterations in the function of the placenta. In the placenta, the HSD11B2 gene encodes the 11-beta hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase enzyme, which is responsible for the inactivation of maternal cortisol thereby protecting the developing fetus from this exposure. This gene is regulated by DNA methylation, and this methylation and the expression it controls has been shown to be susceptible to a variety of stressors from the maternal environment. The association of prenatal socioeconomic adversity and placental HSD11B2 methylation has not been examined. Following a developmental origins of disease framework, prenatal socioeconomic adversity may alter fetal response to the postnatal environment through functional epigenetic alterations in the placenta. Therefore, we hypothesized that prenatal socioeconomic adversity would be associated with less HSD11B2 methylation.
Methods and Findings
We examined the association between DNA methylation of the HSD11B2 promoter region in the placenta of 444 healthy term newborn infants and several markers of prenatal socioeconomic adversity: maternal education, poverty, dwelling crowding, tobacco use and cumulative risk. We also examined whether such associations were sex-specific. We found that infants whose mothers experienced the greatest levels of socioeconomic adversity during pregnancy had the lowest extent of placental HSD11B2 methylation, particularly for males. Associations were maintained for maternal education when adjusting for confounders (p<0.05).
Patterns of HSD11B2 methylation suggest that environmental cues transmitted from the mother during gestation may program the developing fetus’s response to an adverse postnatal environment, potentially via less exposure to cortisol during development. Less methylation of placental HSD11B2 may therefore be adaptive and promote the effective management of stress associated with social adversity in a postnatal environment.
PMCID: PMC3764127  PMID: 24040322
14.  Prenatal Methamphetamine Exposure and Inhibitory Control among Young School-Age Children 
The Journal of pediatrics  2012;161(3):452-459.
To examine the association between prenatal methamphetamine exposure and inhibitory control in 66 month old children followed since birth in the multicenter, longitudinal Infant Development, Environment and Lifestyle Study.
Study design
The sample included 137 children with prenatal methamphetamine exposure and 130 comparison children, matched for race, birth weight, maternal education and type of insurance. Inhibitory control, an executive function related to emotional and cognitive control, was assessed using a computerized Stroop-like task developed for young children. Hierarchical linear modeling tested the relationship between the extent (heavy, some and no use) of prenatal methamphetamine exposure and accuracy and reaction time outcomes, adjusting for prenatal exposure to alcohol, tobacco and marijuana, age, sex, socioeconomic status, caregiver IQ and psychological symptoms, child protective services report of physical or sexual abuse, and site.
In adjusted analyses, heavy prenatal methamphetamine exposure was related to reduced accuracy in both the incongruent and mixed conditions on the Stroop task. Caregiver psychological symptoms and Child Protective Services (CPS) report of physical or sexual abuse were associated with reduced accuracy in the incongruent and mixed, and incongruent conditions, respectively.
Heavy prenatal methamphetamine exposure, along with caregiver psychological distress and child maltreatment, is related to subtle deficits in inhibitory control during the early school-aged years.
PMCID: PMC3392459  PMID: 22424953
Prenatal exposure; Amphetamines; Children; Neuropsychology; Executive Function
15.  An Initial Investigation of Baseline Respiratory Sinus Arrhythmia as a Moderator of Treatment Outcome for Young Children Born Premature with Externalizing Behavior Problems 
Behavior therapy  2012;43(3):652-665.
The aim of the current study was to examine the moderating effect of baseline respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA) on Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT), a behavioral parent-training intervention, for young children born premature. In this pilot randomized controlled trial, 28 young children (mean age of 37.79 months), who were born < 37 weeks gestation and presented with elevated externalizing behavior problems, were randomly assigned to an immediate treatment or waitlist control group. RSA, which provides an approximate marker of individual differences in cardiac vagal tone, was measured during a baseline period. Past research has generally shown that higher levels of baseline RSA correlate with various positive psychological states (e.g., empathy, sustained attention), whereas lower levels of baseline RSA correlate with less optimal psychological states (e.g., higher externalizing behavior problems). Results indicated that baseline RSA significantly interacted with treatment condition in predicting changes in child disruptive behavior. Specifically, low levels of baseline RSA were associated with greater improvements in child disruptive behavior following PCIT. While acknowledging the caveats of measuring and interpreting RSA and the need to include a sympathetic-linked cardiac measure in future research, these findings provide preliminary evidence that children with lower capacity for emotion regulation receive even greater treatment gains. Future research should also examine the moderating effect of RSA in larger samples and explore the potential mediating role of RSA on behavioral parenting interventions.
PMCID: PMC3475510  PMID: 22697452
respiratory sinus arrhythmia; emotion regulation; prematurity; behavior problems; behavioral parent training
16.  Impact of maternal substance use during pregnancy on childhood outcome 
The impact of maternal substance abuse is reflected in the 2002–2003 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Among pregnant women in the 15–44 age group, 4.3%, 18% and 9.8% used illicit drugs, tobacco and alcohol, respectively. Maternal pregnancy complications following substance use include increases in sexually transmitted disorders, placental abruption and HIV-positive status. Effects on the neonate include a decrease in growth parameters and increases in central nervous system and autonomic nervous system signs and in referrals to child protective agencies. In childhood, behavioral and cognitive effects are seen after prenatal cocaine exposure; tobacco and alcohol have separate and specific effects. The ongoing use of alcohol and tobacco by the caretaker affects childhood behavior. Therefore, efforts should be made to prevent and treat behavioral problems as well as to limit the onset of drug use by adolescent children born to women who use drugs during pregnancy.
PMCID: PMC3717561  PMID: 17317350
Alcohol; Child medicine; Cocaine; Neonatal; Neurobehavioral outcome; Polydrug use; Tobacco
Depression and anxiety  2012;29(6):515-522.
Maternal depression is associated with a higher incidence of behavioral problems in infants, but the effects of maternal depression as early as 1 month are not well characterized. The objective of this study is to determine the neurobehavioral effects of maternal depression on infants exposed and not exposed to methamphetamine (MA) using the NICU Network Neurobehavioral Scale (NNNS).
Four hundred twelve mother–infant pairs were enrolled (MA = 204) and only biological mothers with custody of their child were included in the current analysis. At the 1-month visit (n = 126 MA-exposed; n = 193 MA-unexposed), the Beck Depression Inventory-II (BDI-II) was administered, and the NNNS was administered to the infant. Exposure was identified by self-report and/or gas chromatography/mass spectroscopy confirmation of amphetamine and metabolites in newborn meconium. Unexposed subjects were matched, denied amphetamine use, and had negative meconium screens. General Linear Models tested the effects of maternal depression and prenatal MA exposure on NNNS, with significance accepted at P < .05.
The MA group had an increased incidence of depression-positive diagnosis and increased depression scores on the BDI-II. After adjusting for covariates, MA exposure was associated with increased arousal and handling scores, and a decreased ability to self-regulate. Maternal depression was associated with higher autonomic stress and poorer quality of movement. No additional differences were observed in infants whose mothers were both depressed and used MA during pregnancy.
Maternal depression is associated with neurodevelopmental patterns of increased stress and decreased quality of movement, suggesting maternal depression influences neurodevelopment in infants as young as 1 month.
PMCID: PMC3717341  PMID: 22555777
amphetamine; drug; antenatal
18.  Prenatal Methamphetamine Exposure and Short-Term Maternal and Infant Medical Outcomes 
American journal of perinatology  2012;29(5):391-400.
Examine maternal and infant medical outcomes of prenatal exposure to methamphetamine (MA).
Study Design
Four hundred and twelve mother-infant pairs (204 MA-exposed and 208 unexposed matched comparisons) were enrolled in the Infant Development, Environment and Lifestyle (IDEAL) study. Exposure was determined by maternal self-report during this pregnancy and/or positive meconium toxicology. Maternal interviews assessed prenatal drug use, pregnancy course, and sociodemographic information. Medical chart reviews provided medical history, obstetric complications, infant outcomes, and discharge placement.
MA-using mothers were more likely to be poor, to have a psychiatric disorder/emotional illness and less prenatal care, and to be less likely to breast-feed their infant than comparison mothers. After adjusting for covariates, MA-exposed infants were more likely to exhibit poor suck, to have smaller head circumferences and length, to require neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) admission, and to be referred to child protective services (CPS). Several outcomes previously reported from studies that lacked adequate control groups or adjustment for covariates were not significantly different in this study.
Prenatal MA exposure is associated with maternal psychiatric disorder/emotional illness, poor suck, NICU admission, and CPS involvement, and MA-exposed infants were less likely to be breast-fed; however, the absence of many serious complications, such as fetal distress, chronic hypertension, preeclampsia, placenta previa, abruptio placentae, and cardiac defects, suggests confounding variables influenced prior studies.
PMCID: PMC3717348  PMID: 22399214
amphetamine; methamphetamine; drug; antenatal; neonate
19.  The Effects of Prenatal Methamphetamine Exposure on Childhood Growth Patterns from Birth to 3 Years of Age 
American journal of perinatology  2011;29(3):203-210.
We examined the effects of prenatal methamphetamine (MA) exposure on growth parameters from birth to age 3 years. The 412 subjects included (n = 204 exposed) were enrolled at birth in the Infant Development, Environment and Lifestyle study, a longitudinal study assessing the effects of prenatal MA exposure on childhood outcomes. Individual models were used to examine the effects of prenatal MA exposure on weight, head circumference, height, and weight-for-length growth trajectories. After adjusting for covariates, height trajectory was lower in the exposed versus the comparison children (p = 0.021) over the first 3 years of life. Both groups increased height on average by 2.27 cm per month by age 3 years. In term subjects, MA exposure was also associated with a lower height trajectory (p = 0.034), with both the exposed and comparison groups gaining 2.25 cm per month by age 3 years. There was no difference in weight, head circumference, or weight-for-length growth trajectories between the comparison and the exposed groups. Children exposed prenatally to MA have a modest decrease in height growth trajectory during the first 3 years of life with no observed difference in weight, head circumference, or weight-for-length trajectories.
PMCID: PMC3717349  PMID: 21818727
height; antenatal; drug; amphetamine
20.  Evidence-Based Intervention for Young Children Born Premature: Preliminary Evidence for Associated Changes in Physiological Regulation 
Infant behavior & development  2012;35(3):417-428.
The current study examined whether changes in maternal behaviors following an evidence-based treatment—Parent Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT)—was associated with improvements in cardiac vagal regulation in young children born premature. Participants included 28 young children (mean age = 37.79 months) that were born premature and presented with elevated externalizing behavior problems. To assess cardiac vagal regulation, resting measures of respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA) and RSA change (withdrawal or suppression) to a clean-up task were derived pre and post-treatment. Results indicated that an increase in behaviors mothers are taught to use during treatment (i.e., do skills—praise, reflection, and behavioral descriptions) were associated with an improvement in children’s post-treatment RSA suppression levels. The current study illustrates the important role of caregiver behavior in promoting physiological regulation in children born premature.
PMCID: PMC3409342  PMID: 22721742
cardiac vagal regulation; RSA suppression; emotion regulation; prematurity; child; parent training
21.  Long-Term Impact of Maternal Substance Use during Pregnancy and Extrauterine Environmental Adversity: Stress Hormone Levels of Preadolescent Children 
Pediatric research  2011;70(2):213-219.
Prenatal cocaine exposure (PCE) is associated with blunted stress responsivity within the extrauterine environment. This study investigated the association between PCE and diurnal salivary cortisol levels in preadolescent children characterized by high biological and/or social risk (N = 725). Saliva samples were collected at their home. Analyses revealed no group differences in basal evening or morning cortisol levels; however, children with higher degrees of PCE exhibited blunted overnight increases in cortisol, controlling for additional risk factors. Race and caregiver depression were also associated with diurnal cortisol patterns. While repeated PCE may contribute to alterations in the normal or expected stress response later in life, sociodemographic and environmental factors are likewise important in understanding hormone physiology, especially as more time elapses from the PCE. Anticipating the potential long-term medical, developmental, or behavioral effects of an altered ability to mount a normal protective cortisol stress response is essential in optimizing the outcomes of children with PCE.
PMCID: PMC3686483  PMID: 21546861
22.  Psychopathology and Special Education Enrollment in Children with Prenatal Cocaine Exposure 
This study evaluated how enrollment in special education services in 11 year old children relates to prenatal cocaine exposure, psychopathology, and other risk factors.
Participants were 498 children enrolled in The Maternal Lifestyle Study, a prospective, longitudinal, multisite study examining outcomes of children with prenatal cocaine exposure. Logistic regression was used to examine the effect of prenatal cocaine exposure and psychopathology on enrollment in an individualized education plan (a designation specific to children with special education needs), with environmental, maternal, and infant medical variables as covariates.
Prenatal cocaine exposure, an interaction of prenatal cocaine exposure and Oppositional Defiant Disorder, child Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, parent-reported internalizing behaviors, and teacher-reported externalizing behaviors, predicted enrollment in an individualized education plan. Other statistically significant variables in the model were male gender, low birth weight, being small for gestational age, white race, caregiver change, low socio-economic status, low child intelligence quotient, caregiver depression, and prenatal marijuana exposure.
Prenatal cocaine exposure increased the likelihood of receiving an individualized education plan with adjustment for covariates. Psychopathology also predicted this special education outcome, in combination with and independent of prenatal cocaine exposure.
PMCID: PMC3400535  PMID: 22487696
cocaine; special education; behavior; prenatal substance exposure
23.  Placenta Imprinted Gene Expression Association of Infant Neurobehavior 
The Journal of Pediatrics  2011;160(5):854-860.e2.
To identify links between altered gene imprinting in the placenta and infant neurobehavioral profiles.
Study design
We used qRT-PCR to examine the expression of 22 imprinted candidate genes in a series of 106 term human primary placenta tissues and associated that expression with summary scores from the NICU Network Neurobehavioral Scales performed on the corresponding infants. Clustering of the expression data was used to define distinct classes of expression.
Significant associations were identified between classes of expression and the NICU Network Neurobehavioral Scales quality of movement (P=0.02) and handling (P=0.006) scores. Multivariable regression demonstrated an independent effect of imprinted gene expression profile on these neurobehavioral scores after controlling for confounders.
These results suggest that alterations in imprinted gene expression in the placenta are associated with infant neurodevelopmental outcomes. Our results suggest a role for the placenta and genomic imprinting in the placenta beyond intrauterine growth regulation.
PMCID: PMC3311768  PMID: 22153677
neurodevelopment; epigenetics; fetal programming; trophoblast; mental health
24.  Prenatal Methamphetamine Exposure and Childhood Behavior Problems at 3 and 5 Years of Age 
Pediatrics  2012;129(4):681-688.
We evaluated behavior problems in children who were prenatally exposed to methamphetamine (MA) at ages 3 and 5 years.
The Infant Development, Environment, and Lifestyle study, a prospective, longitudinal study of prenatal MA exposure and child outcome, enrolled subjects postpartum in Los Angeles, California; Honolulu, Hawaii; Des Moines, Iowa; and Tulsa, Oklahoma. Prenatal exposure was determined by maternal self-report and/or meconium results. Exposed and comparison groups were matched on race, birth weight, public health insurance, and education. Mothers in the comparison group denied use and had a negative meconium screen for amphetamines. Prenatal exposures to tobacco, alcohol, or marijuana occurred in both groups. At ages 3 and 5 years, 330 children (166 exposed and 164 comparison) were assessed for behavior problems by using the caregiver report on the Child Behavior Checklist. General linear mixed models were used to determine the effects of prenatal MA exposure, including heavy exposure (≥3 days per week), age, and the interaction of exposure and age on behavior problems with adjustment for other drugs of abuse and environmental risk factors.
MA exposure was associated with increased emotional reactivity and anxious/depressed problems at both ages and externalizing and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder problems by age 5 years. Heavy exposure was related to attention problems and withdrawn behavior at both ages. There were no effects of MA on the internalizing or total behavior problems scales.
This first report of behavior problems in patients as young as 3 years associated with MA exposure identifies an important public health problem. Continued follow-up can inform the development of preventive intervention programs.
PMCID: PMC3313637  PMID: 22430455
amphetamines; behavior disorders/problems; children; methamphetamine; prenatal exposure
25.  Physiologic Arousal to Social Stress in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Pilot Study 
Little is known about arousal to socially stressful situations in children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. This preliminary study investigates physiologic arousal in children with high functioning autism (HFA, n=19) compared to a comparison group (n=11) before, during, and after the Trier Social Stress Test. The HFA group was more likely to have a decrease in salivary cortisol following the stressor, while the comparison group was more likely to have an increase (p=.02). However, there was no difference in electrodermal activity, a measure of sympathetic arousal, or vagal tone, a measure of parasympathetic activity, between groups. These findings implicate a differential neuroendocrine response to social stress in children with HFA despite similar sympathetic and parasympathetic responses during a stressor. Further studies are required to substantiate this finding.
PMCID: PMC3212393  PMID: 22081773
psychophysiology; Trier Social Stress Test; high functioning autism; stress

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