Early specialized foster care, developmental outcomes and home salivary cortisol patterns in prenatally substance-exposed infants

Journal article
Canadian CW research

D'Angiulli, Amedeo
Sullivan, Richard

Children and Youth Services Review, Volume 32, Issue 3, pp. 460-465.

D’Angiulli and Sullivan examine developmental outcomes in substance exposed infants placed in foster care. The sample was comprised of twenty-two infants under twenty-four months of age, divided into a preterm and a full-term group enrolled in the Vancouver Costal Safe Babies program. The Vancouver Costal Safe Babies program provides services and special programming for foster parents supporting children exposed to substances such as drugs and alcohol.

The authors used two types of measurements to examine child outcomes. First, a salivary cortisol (i.e., stress hormone) test to compare normal infant cortisol levels to those of the participants. Second, the Battelle Developmental Inventory (BDI) assessment to examine developmental outcomes such as cognition, adaptability, personal-social development, and communication as compared to normal infant development. The authors found that there was no evidence of clinically significant differences between children within the study as compared to the typical range of developmental outcomes for children within the same age group. For this reason the authors argue that out-of-home arrangements, when appropriate, can contribute to a child’s development in positive ways resulting in average development for children prenatally exposed to substances.

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