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Dev Psychobiol. 2019 Mar 13. doi: 10.1002/dev.21844. [Epub ahead of print]

Prenatal exposure to tobacco and marijuana and child autonomic regulation and reactivity: An analysis of indirect pathways via maternal psychopathology and parenting.

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Department of Psychology, State University of New York Buffalo State, Buffalo, New York.
Clinical and Research Institute on Addictions, University at Buffalo, Buffalo, New York.
Department of Psychology, University at Buffalo, Buffalo, New York.
The Lambert Center for the Study of Medicinal Cannabis and Hemp, Thomas Jefferson, Philadelphia, PA.


We examined a conceptual model for the associations of prenatal exposure to tobacco (PTE) and marijuana with child reactivity/regulation at 16 months of age. We hypothesized that PTE would be associated with autonomic reactivity and regulation that these associations would be indirect via maternal anger/hostility, depression/stress, or harsh parenting assessed at 2 months and that these effects would be most pronounced among children exposed to both tobacco and marijuana (PTME). Participants were 247 dyads (81 PTE, 97 PTME, and 69 nonexposed) who were followed up at 2 (N = 247) and 16 months (N = 238) of child age. Results from model testing indicated an indirect association between PTME and autonomic functioning during the second year of life, which was mediated by harsh parenting during caregiver-infant interactions. This study fills an important gap in the literature on PTE, PTME, and autonomic regulation during the toddler years, highlighting the role of maternal parenting as important intervening variables.


autonomic reactivity/regulation; maternal psychopathology; prenatal marijuana exposure; prenatal tobacco exposure; respiratory sinus arrhythmia


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