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Prenatal endocrine-disrupting chemicals and social/cognitive risk in mothers and infants: Potential biologic pathways

Mother-infant interaction, and social and cognitive development across the first two years of life, have a lifelong impact. Prenatal exposure to bisphenol compounds alters these endpoints in animal models, but human studies have not evaluated the impact of exposure on maternal-infant interaction, which may explain why the extant literature examining effects on social and cognitive endpoints have been equivocal. This study will evaluate this important endpoint in the context of bisphenol-induced neurotoxicity and can inform public health policy.  


5-year R01ES027424-01A1 began February 2018.

Collaborators: Drs. Julie Herbstman (Mailman School of Public Health), Frances Champagne (Columbia University), Amy Margolis (NYSPI), and Virginia Rauh (Mailman School of Public Health).

Pregnant and widowed on 9/11

This clinical/research project follows a cohort of 36 women who were pregnant and widowed on September 11, 2001, and whose first visit occurred in 2002–2003 (infants ages 4–18 months). The clinical project is conceptualized as primary prevention. The clinical team includes: Drs. Phyllis Cohen, Mark Sossin, Anni Bergman, Sally Moskowitz, Rita Reiswig, Suzi Tortora, and Donna Demetri Friedman.

The research project compares mother-infant interaction of the 9/11 families with a community sample.

Collaborators: Drs. Christina Hoven (NYSPI), George Musa (NYSPI), and Mark Sossin (Pace University).

30-year follow-up from infancy to adulthood

We are following two community cohorts: Cohort I, filmed in infancy 1985-89 and Cohort II, filmed in infancy 1992–96. Both studies attempt to predict attachment, social adjustment, and learning styles in young adulthood from mother-infant interaction patterns at 4 months and infant attachment at 12 months.

Collaborators: Drs. Miriam and Howard Steele (The New School for Social Research), Karlen Lyons-Ruth (Harvard Medical School), Amy Margolis (NYSPI), and Sohye Kim (Baylor College of Medicine).

High-risk NICU intervention

A randomized control trial, “Multifaceted NICU Nurture Intervention: Biopsychosocial Impact on Infant and Mother” for high-risk premature infants and their mothers was conducted by Drs. Martha Welch (NYSPI), Michael Myers (NYSPI), and Howard Andrews (NYSPI). Our collaboration assesses the social development of mothers and infants at 4 months, comparing the intervention and control groups. We document more optimal social engagement in the intervention group.

Precursors of nonverbal learning disability

Using microanalysis of nonverbal communication in 4-month mother-infant interactions to understand the precursors of Nonverbal Learning Disability, Dr. Beebe is collaborating with Dr. Amy Margolis to identify individual differences in four-month infants as they interact face-to-face with their mothers.

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