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Fetal Antecedents of Infant Temperament

Janet A. DiPietro, Denice M. Hodgson, Kathleen A. Costigan and Timothy R. B. Johnson
Child Development
Vol. 67, No. 5 (Oct., 1996), pp. 2568-2583
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Society for Research in Child Development
DOI: 10.2307/1131641
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1131641
Page Count: 16
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Fetal Antecedents of Infant Temperament
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Abstract

This study established the emergence of stable individual differences in neurobehavioral functioning prior to birth and examined their relation to subsequent infant temperament. Fetal heart rate and movement were recorded longitudinally for 31 fetuses at 6 gestational ages beginning at 20 weeks' gestation. Maternally reported temperament data were collected at 3 and 6 months. Moderate stability in all measures except reactivity was apparent at some time before birth. By 36 weeks, fetal neurobehavior accounted for between 22% and 60% of the variance in prediction of temperament scores. In general, more active fetuses were more difficult, unpredictable, unadaptable, and active infants. Higher fetal heart rate was associated with lower emotional tone, activity level, and predictability. We conclude that features of fetal neurobehavior provide the basis for individual differences in reactivity and regulation in infancy.

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