Cocaine exposure is associated with subtle compromises of infants' and mothers' social-emotional behavior and dyadic features of their interaction in the face-to-face still-face paradigm

E. Z. Tronick, M. K. Weinberg, R. Seifer, S. Shankaran, L. L. Wright, D. S. Messinger, B. M. Lester, L. LaGasse, C. R. Bauer, H. Bada, K. Poole, J. Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

103 Scopus citations


Prenatal cocaine and opiate exposure are thought to subtly compromise social and emotional development. The authors observed a large sample of 236 cocaine-exposed and 459 nonexposed infants (49 were opiate exposed and 646 nonexposed) with their mothers in the face-to-face still-face paradigm. Infant and maternal behaviors were microanalytically coded. No opiate-exposure effects were detected. However, mothers of cocaine-exposed infants showed more negative engagement than other mothers. The cocaine-exposed dyads also showed higher overall levels of mismatched engagement states than other dyads, including more negative engagement when the infants were in states of neutral engagement. Infants exposed to heavier levels of cocaine showed more passive-withdrawn negative engagement and engaged in more negative affective matching with their mothers than other infants. Although effect sizes were small, cocaine exposure, especially heavy cocaine exposure, was associated with subtly negative interchanges, which may have a cumulative impact on infants' later development and their relationships with their mothers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)711-722
Number of pages12
JournalDevelopmental psychology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2005



  • Cocaine exposure
  • Communication
  • Emotion
  • Infant
  • Mother

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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