Reactivity and regulation in children prenatally exposed to cocaine

Department of Psychology, Hunter College, City University of New York, New York, NY 10021, USA.
Developmental Psychology (Impact Factor: 3.21). 08/2006; 42(4):688-97. DOI: 10.1037/0012-1649.42.4.688
Source: PubMed


Children prenatally exposed to cocaine may be at elevated risk for adjustment problems in early development because of greater reactivity and reduced regulation during challenging tasks. Few studies have examined whether cocaine-exposed children show such difficulties during the preschool years, a period marked by increased social and cognitive demands and by rapid changes in reactivity and regulation. The authors addressed this question by examining frustration reactivity and regulation of behavior during a problem-solving task in cocaine-exposed and -unexposed preschoolers. Participants were 174 4.5-year-olds (M age = 4.55 years, SD = 0.09). Frustration reactivity was measured as latency to show frustration and number of disruptive behaviors, whereas regulation was measured as latency to approach and attempt the problem-solving task and number of problem-solving behaviors. Results indicated that cocaine-exposed children took longer to attempt the problem-solving task but that cocaine-exposed boys showed the most difficulties: They were quicker to express frustration and were more disruptive. Effect sizes were relatively small, suggesting both resilience and vulnerabilities.

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    • "To date, most studies with cocaine-exposed children have focused on emotional responsivity during tasks designed to elicit frustration. For instance, cocaine-exposed infants and children display higher negative affect (Bendersky and Lewis, 1998; Mayes et al., 1996), more anger (Alessandri et al., 1993), higher frustration and more disruptive behavior (Dennis et al., 2006) and disrupted patterns of physiological regulation (Eiden et al., 2009; Magnano et al., 1992; Schuetze et al., 2009, 2007). Fewer studies have examined responsivity during other types of emotional challenges. "
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    ABSTRACT: This study examined the association between prenatal exposure to cocaine and behavioral and fme. Participants were 216 mother-infant dyads (116 cocaine exposed-CE, 100 nonexposed-NCE) recruited at birth. Measures of heart rate (HR) and respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA) were obtained during baseline and during a task designed to elicit empathy (exposure to infant crying). When the effects of prenatal cocaine use were examined in the context of polydrug use, results of model testing indicated that lower gestational age, prenatal exposure to cocaine and postnatal exposure to alcohol were each associated with a reduced suppression of RSA during the empathy task. These findings provide additional support for an association between prenatal cocaine exposure and dysregulation during early childhood during affect-eliciting environmental challenges.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2014 · Neurotoxicology and Teratology
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    • "Further, these impairments often manifest most strongly when moderated by biological sex and, in some cases, by environmental risk (Lewis & Kestler 2011). In particular, PCE males who are also from high-risk environments tend to show increased impairments for sustained attention, inhibitory control, emotion regulation, aggression, and other antisocial behavior problems throughout childhood (Bandstra et al., 2001; Delaney- Black et al., 2004; Dennis et al., 2006; Kestler et al., 2011; Richardson et al., 2009). "
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    ABSTRACT: To examine the effects of prenatal cocaine exposure and biological sex on adolescent risk-taking while controlling for early environmental risk. Adolescents (n=114, mean age=16) were grouped according to high and low risk-taking propensity as measured by the Balloon Analogue Risk Taking (BART) task. Prenatal cocaine exposure was assessed at birth, while environmental risk was assessed at three points during early childhood. A binary regression analysis indicated that males were 3.5 times more likely than females to be high risk-takers. Biological sex and prenatal cocaine exposure interacted such that exposed males were most likely to be high risk-takers while exposed females were the least likely to be high-risk takers. This pattern held after controlling for prenatal alcohol exposure and early environmental risk. Early environmental risk did not predict adolescent risk-taking. These findings complement and extend earlier research demonstrating that prenatal cocaine exposure interacts with biological sex in domains related to inhibitory control, emotion regulation, anti-social behavior, and health risk behaviors during preadolescence.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2013 · Neurotoxicology and Teratology
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    • "Arousal dysregulation is one of the major findings of previous investigations of neuro-developmental effects of prenatal cocaine exposure (PCE). This long-term effect has been reported at different stages of postnatal development including neonates (Dipietro et al., 1995; Karmel and Gardner, 1996), infants (Bendersky and Lewis, 1998; Coles et al., 1999; Bard et al., 2000; Schuetze and Eiden, 2006; Eiden et al., 2009a, 2009b), young children (Bandstra et al., 2001; Dennis et al., 2006; Bada et al., 2007; Kable et al., 2008; Chaplin et al., 2009) and adolescents (Li et al., 2009, 2011; Lester et al., 2010). Specifically, children with PCE often exhibit a reduced threshold in response to perceived stress or emotionally salient stimuli, which in turn may affect available attentional resources involved in cognition and behavior (Mayes et al., 1998; Mayes, 2002). "
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    ABSTRACT: Prenatal cocaine exposure (PCE) is associated with arousal dysregulation, and alterations of amygdala activity in response to emotional arousal have previously been reported. However, voluntary regulation of emotional affect, enabling appropriate neural response to different streams of stimuli, must also engage prefrontal regions, yet the impact of PCE on these prefrontal mechanisms has not been investigated. Recent neuroimaging studies have shown the involvement of ventral prefrontal cortex (vPFC) in the modulation of amygdala reactivity and the mediation of effective emotional regulation. Based on these findings, using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), the present study compared functional activations of the vPFC as well as its structural connectivity with the amygdala between groups of PCE and control adolescents. In a working memory task with emotional distracters, the PCE adolescents exhibited less capability of increasing their vPFC activation in response to increased memory load, which corresponded with their less suppressed amygdala activation. Reduced structural connectivity between the vPFC and the amygdala was also observed from DTI measurement in the PCE group. In addition, correlations between amygdala activation and (i) vPFC activation, as well as (ii) amygdala-vPFC structural connectivity, were observed in the control but not in the PCE group. These data complement previous findings of the impact of PCE on the activity of the amygdala and extend our understanding of the neurobiological mechanisms underlying the effect of PCE on arousal dysregulation reported in human and animal studies.
    Full-text · Article · May 2013
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