Developmental pathways from prenatal substance exposure to reactive aggression

Stephanie Godleski, Pamela Schuetze, Rina D. Eiden, Amanda B. Nickerson, Jamie M. Ostrov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Few studies have examined etiological pathways from prenatal substance exposure to adolescent reactive aggression. We tested a conceptual model that included hypothesized pathways from prenatal substance exposure to adolescent aggression via autonomic reactivity and violence exposure from infancy to early school age and maternal harshness across early childhood. The sample included 216 families (106 boys) who primarily self-identified as Black or Mixed Race. Results supported the hypothesized path from violence exposure across early childhood and early school age to school age autonomic reactivity and early adolescent reactive aggression. There was also a significant interaction effect of sympathetic and parasympathetic reactivity on adolescent reactive aggression, with sympathetic arousal and parasympathetic suppression at early school age associated with higher reactive relational and physical aggression in adolescence. Results emphasize the importance of early experiences and autonomic nervous system changes in contributing to the cascade of risk for reactive aggression in early adolescence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101474
JournalJournal of Applied Developmental Psychology
StatePublished - Nov 1 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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