Cocaine exposure and mother-toddler social play

Susan Brunner Uhlhorn, Daniel S. Messinger, Charles R. Bauer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


This study compared the play interactions of 18-month-old cocaine-exposed toddlers and their mothers (n = 48) to non-cocaine-exposed comparison toddlers and their mothers (n = 77). Coders blind to drug-exposure status reliably coded the interactions for maternal directiveness, positivity, and sensitivity; child social initiative and positivity; and dyadic responsiveness. There were no cocaine exposure group differences on any of the measures, with or without statistical controls for birth weight, SES, maternal age, and prenatal exposure to alcohol, marijuana, and cigarettes. Irrespective of cocaine exposure, low birth weight was associated with fewer maternal positive vocalizations and lower levels of maternal sensitivity. In higher SES dyads, children were more likely to respond to mother requests. The absence of cocaine exposure differences in social interactive behaviors during mother-child play in a relatively large sample of mothers and their children, is discussed with respect to the existing literature.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)62-73
Number of pages12
JournalInfant Behavior and Development
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2005


  • Cocaine
  • Mother-child interaction
  • Play
  • Prenatal drug exposure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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