Yale Team To Study How Pregnant Mothers’ Cocaine Use Affects Interactions with Infants

Yale and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will share a $10 million grant to study the way cocaine use during pregnancy affects interactions between mothers and infants.

The Yale portion of the study will be spearheaded by Dr. Linda Mayes, the Arnold Gesell Professor of Child Psychiatry, Pediatrics and Psychology at the Yale Child Study Center. The Yale team will use brain imaging scans to study how mothers who use cocaine and those who do not differ in their response to their infants. The researchers will also study how particular genes may modify maternal sensitivity to infants’ cues.

“Understanding, for example, how genes and experiences such as substance use come together to influence how a mother responds to her baby’s cry or other expressions of distress sets the stage for working towards finding innovative interventions for adults who are struggling to care for their children under the burden of their own substance use,” Mayes says.

The study is funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the National Institute of Mental Health, and the Directors Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences at the National Institutes of Health.

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Bill Hathaway: william.hathaway@yale.edu, 203-432-1322