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Physiological Regulation at 9 Months of Age in Infants Prenatally Exposed to Cigarettes


should be sent to Pamela Schuetze, Department of Psychology, Buffalo State College, 1300 Elmwood Avenue, Buffalo, NY 14222. E-mail:


The primary purpose of this study was to examine the association between prenatal cigarette exposure and physiological regulation at 9 months of age. Specifically, we explored the possibility that any association between prenatal cigarette exposure and infant physiological regulation was moderated by postnatal environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) exposure or infant gender. We evaluated whether male infants with prenatal cigarette exposure or infants who were also exposed to ETS after birth had the highest levels of physiological dysregulation. Respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA) was obtained from 206 (142 exposed and 64 nonexposed) infants during a baseline period and during procedures designed to elicit both positive and negative affect. There was a significant suppression of RSA during the negative affect task for nonexposed infants, but not for exposed infants. Postnatal ETS exposure did not moderate this association; however, gender did moderate this association such that boys with prenatal cigarette exposure had a significant increase in RSA rather than the suppression seen among both nonexposed boys and girls. These results provide additional support for the idea that boys are particularly vulnerable to the effects of prenatal cigarette exposure.

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