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Emerging Research and Reports Crib Notes April 2021

Emerging Research and Reports Related to Expectant Parents and Families With Infants and Toddlers
Toddler Standing in Crib

Crib Notes is a monthly newsletter that offers members valuable information and insights to support you in your work with expectant parents and families with infants and toddlers. In this issue you’ll find recently published research, reports, and resources of interest to early childhood professionals. Be sure to join us on Member Connect, Facebook, and Twitter to share your thoughts and stay up to date on the latest news and information from ZERO TO THREE.

The resources below support ZERO TO THREE’s Competencies for Prenatal to Age 5 Professionals. The icon following the abstract identifies the relevant competency domain.


Genes, Environments, and Time: The Biology of Adversity and Resilience (full text article)
W. Thomas Boyce, Pat Levitt, Fernando D. Martinez, Bruce S. McEwen & Jack P. Shonkoff, Pediatrics
February 2021

Exposures to adverse environments, both psychosocial and physicochemical, are prevalent and consequential across a broad range of childhood populations. Such adversity, especially early in life, conveys measurable risk to learning, behavior, and the foundations of both mental and physical health. The authors surveyed the independent and interactive roles of genetic variation, environmental context, and developmental timing in light of advances in the biology of adversity and resilience, as well as new discoveries in biomedical research, and identified four core concepts that provide a powerful catalyst for fresh thinking about primary health care for young children.

Brain Changed by Caffeine in Utero, Study Finds
Kelsie Smith Hayduk, University of Rochester Medical Center
February 4, 2021

New research finds caffeine consumed during pregnancy can change important brain pathways that could lead to behavioral problems later in life. Researchers analyzed thousands of brain scans of 9- and 10-year-olds revealing changes in the brain structure in children who were exposed to caffeine in utero.

Cited Source: Caffeine Exposure In Utero Is Associated With Structural Brain Alterations and Deleterious Neurocognitive Outcomes in 9-10 Year Old Children
Zachary P. Christensen, Edward G. Freedman, & John J. Foxe

Intergenerational Transmission and Prevention of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)
Angela J. Narayan, Alicia F. Lieberman, & Ann S. Masten, Clinical Psychology Review
February 28, 2021

Children’s risk for ACEs and potential for resilience may be linked to the early child-rearing experiences of their parents carried forward into parenting practices. In addition, parents with multiple ACEs may have posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms, an under-recognized mediator of risk in the intergenerational transmission of ACEs. Guided by developmental psychopathology and attachment theory with an emphasis on risk and resilience, we argue that a more comprehensive understanding of parents’ childhood experiences is needed to inform prevention of ACEs in their children.

Spanking Has Similar Effects on Kids as Adverse Childhood Experiences
Jared Wadley, University of Michigan
February 11, 2021

In the study, researchers analyzed the responses from 2,380 families in the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study. Mothers reported outcomes of externalizing and internalizing child behavior problems at 5 years old; and the main predictors, ACEs and spanking, at 3. ACEs and spanking at 3 years were unique risk factors for increased externalizing problems at 5 years, the study shows. Results support calls to consider physical punishment as a form of ACE.

Cited Source: Adverse Childhood Experiences and Spanking Have Similar Associations With Early Behavior Problems
Julie Ma, Shawna J. Lee, & Andrew Grogan-Kaylor
Journal of Pediatrics

Attachment Goes to Court: Child Protection and Custody Issues
Tommie Forslund et al. Attachment & Human Development
January 11, 2021

Attachment theory and research are drawn upon in many applied settings, including family courts, but misunderstandings are widespread and sometimes result in misapplications. The aim of this consensus statement is, therefore, to enhance understanding, counter misinformation, and steer family-court utilization of attachment theory in a supportive, evidence-based direction, especially with regard to child protection and child custody decision-making.


The State of Child Care for Babies: The Need to Do Better for Our Youngest Children
Daniel Hains & Ashley Neuenswander ZERO TO THREE
March 10, 2021

For infants and toddlers, child care is second only to the interactions with their families in shaping the foundation of babies’ early brain development. This issue brief builds on data from ZERO TO THREE’s State of Babies Yearbook: 2020. It details how children’s access to quality care varies by state and outlines what is needed to ensure all families have access to quality care that supports their children’s healthy development.

Supporting Parents and Caregivers With Trauma Histories During COVID-19
Rebecca Vivrette, Child Trends
March 2021

This brief includes information on the impact of COVID-19 on parents and caregivers, particularly those with trauma histories; outlines resiliency factors for this population; and provides guidance for policymakers, providers, agencies, and families on supporting parents and caregivers with trauma histories during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Paid Family Leave and Affordable Child Care Are Integral to a Strong Prenatal-to-3 System of Care
Prenatal-to-3 Policy Impact Center
February 2021

This research brief explores how access to paid leave from work–and access to affordable child care–can work in tandem to support children’s development and promote positive family outcomes over the entire early childhood period, from birth through preschool.

Black Parent Voices: Resilience in the Face of the Two Pandemics—COVID-19 and Racism
I. U. Iruka, S. M. Curenton, J. Sims, K-A. Escayg, N. Ibekwe-Okafor, & RAPID-EC
February 2021

The pandemic, coupled with racism, has resulted in the lives of Black families and children changing for the worse, which has implications for their well-being through this pandemic and over their life course. This report illustrates how the pandemic is affecting Black families’ experiences with racism and discrimination, financial security/material hardship, health and mental health, and early care and education options.

Who Cares for Infants and Toddlers? Change From 2012 to 2019 and Its Implications
W. Steven Barnett & Zijia Li, NIEER
February 2021

Data from the 2012 and 2019 cohorts of the National Household Education Survey were analyzed for trends in the care of children under 3 years old. Although most infants and toddlers are cared for by parents and other family members, the percentage in formal care increases with the age of the child and has been growing over time. Implications for policy and further research are also discussed.

Childhood in the Time of COVID (U.S. Complement to the Global Childhood Report)
Save the Children

Nearing the 1-year mark of nationwide school closures and stay-at-home orders due to COVID-19, Save the Children examined how the unprecedented events of 2020 impacted families with children. Evaluating 4 months of data in all 50 states, Save the Children found families are suffering in every state and at every income level. But huge disparities exist along geographic, income, and racial/ethnic lines–depriving children of the futures they deserve. Use the interactive map to explore the data at a state and county level, and download the full report from the webpage.


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