Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)


Early Childhood Education

Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Carol Trivette

Committee Members

Pam Evanshen, Pam Mims


Prenatal opioid exposure has been studied in relation to infants' medical outcomes. However, large gaps exist in the literature supporting early identification of atypical neurobehavior and motor development of infants with prenatal opioid exposure. The purpose of the study was to investigate whether prenatal opioid exposure has a negative influence on a newborn infant’s neurobehavior and motor development to aid in the early identification of potential delays. Using a prospective quasi experimental design, infants motor development using the Test of Infant Motor Performance (TIMP) and neurobehavior using the NICU Neonatal Network Scale (NNNS) was assessed on 58 infants in a hospital setting. Even after statistically controlling for covariates both the TIMP and the six out of twelve subscales of the NNNS: attention, handling, self-regulation, arousal, excitability, and stress were significantly different between the two groups of infants. Infants’ TIMP z-scores were significantly correlated with the NNNS subscales of attention, handing, self-regulation, arousal, excitability, hypertonicity, non-optimal reflexes, and stress. The findings highlight the similarities between the two groups and the outcome measures used for early identification of infants at-risk for delays following prenatal opioid exposure. The neonatal outcomes described here, including growth deficits, motor delays and altered neurobehavior are critical given their association with longer-term health and developmental impacts.

Document Type

Dissertation - embargo


Copyright by the authors.

Available for download on Thursday, June 15, 2023