Developmental–Behavioral Pediatrics Research
Experts in the Division of Developmental–Behavioral Pediatrics at NYU Langone conduct research designed to assist children, including at-risk children from low-income communities and households, before school entry. Research in the division is focused on the promotion of positive and responsive parenting during the first five years of life to support optimal brain development, while reducing lower-quality developmental experiences, such as excessive television exposure. Researchers help ensure that at-risk children receive the necessary pediatric healthcare and oversight necessary to address developmental issues and ensure proper immunizations and screenings.
The division collaborates with other NYU Langone departments and programs, such as the Department of Population Health, and with universities across the country. The division works with the Division of General Pediatrics to study chronic disease management, including obesity and asthma and the impact of neurotoxins on development and obesity, as well as the role of health literacy in promoting health and developmental outcomes.
Division faculty examine many factors that affect infant and child development, including the following:
- effectiveness of parent intervention programs
- effects of parent–child interactions and early literacy activities on child development
- effects of media exposure during infancy and early childhood
- effects that social determinants of health, including stress and adversity, have on parenting and child development
- positive and responsive parenting
- mechanisms by which responsive parenting can support healthy growth and prevent childhood obesity
A variety of assessment techniques are used to study these topics, including behavioral assessment, parent interviews, the Language Environment Analysis (LENA) system, near-infrared spectroscopy, in-school assessment, and cortisol measurements.
Research interests in the division include the impact of screen time and media usage on young children and the impact of poverty and toxic stress on child development. Investigators study how pediatrics and well-child visits enhance parent–child interactions and school readiness for low-income children through the Bellevue Project for Early Language, Literacy, and Education Success (BELLE Project) and the Video Interaction Project, a relationship-based parent education program. In addition, the division’s faculty develop standardized instruments to assess children’s home environments through StimQ, a cognitive home environment questionnaire.
The BELLE Project
The BELLE Project is a multidisciplinary behavioral research laboratory that adapts, develops, and assesses pediatric primary healthcare strategies for working with families of children ages 0 to 5. The BELLE Project uses these strategies to promote parent–child interactions that serve to enhance school readiness and long-term educational achievement with the goal of lessening poverty-related disparities. One of the core initiatives of the BELLE Project is the Video Interaction Project, which is described below.
Undergraduate or graduate students can learn more about volunteering or working with the BELLE Project. Students who can speak both Spanish and English are especially needed.
The Video Interaction Project
The Video Interaction Project (VIP) is a relationship-based parenting program that uses videotaping and developmentally appropriate toys, books, and resources to help parents utilize pretend play, shared reading, and daily routines as opportunities for strengthening early development and literacy in their children. Sessions take place in pediatric clinics on days of routine well-child visits, and at each session, families meet individually with an interventionist for approximately 25 minutes.
Since its beginning, VIP has been rigorously studied through a series of randomized controlled trials that have shown large, long-lasting benefits for parents and children who have participated in the program.
VIP has been shown to increase parent–child interactions, reduce television exposure, and reduce maternal depressive symptoms, parenting stress, and use of physical punishment. It also enhances cognition and language in children through age 3, improves IQ and reading levels at school entry, and reduces the need for early intervention.
Currently, researchers are studying the continued impact of the project through elementary school and examining the effectiveness of combining the project with other parenting programs.
The project is a partner program of a New York City–wide early literacy initiative called City’s First Readers, which is funded by the New York City Council.
If you are interested in learning about opportunities for offering VIP to families in your medical practice, please contact VIP or Alan L. Mendelsohn, MD, at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
The BELLE Project is also engaged in substantial global initiatives. Additional adaptations of Reach Out and Read™ and VIP are presently being designed and studied in Brazil. Findings from a recent cluster randomized controlled trial in educational childcare centers in Boa Vista, a city in northern Brazil, demonstrate impacts of a group-based adaptation on reading activities and on child cognition and language.
StimQ Cognitive Home Environment Questionnaire
The StimQ Cognitive Home Environment Questionnaire is a revised and revalidated StimQ instrument that was developed by pediatricians and developmental psychologists at NYU Langone to measure a family’s cognitive home environment. Available free of charge in English and Spanish, the questionnaire is answered in an interview format by parents of children between 5 and 72 months. StimQ has four subscales: reading (READ), parental involvement in developmental advance (PIDA) and parental verbal responsivity (PVR), and availability of learning materials (ALM). Internal consistency on the StimQ forms has been measured, with Cronbach’s alpha ranging from 0.86 to 0.93. We have recently updated the StimQ (known as the StimQ2) to enhance ease of use. In particular, the updated instrument allows for utilization of individual components (known as subdimensions) within each of the subscales. The questionnaire requires 15 to 20 minutes to administer and 2 to 3 minutes to score.
If you are interested in using the StimQ in your research or practice, please contact Caroline Raak at email@example.com. The Video Interaction Project also offers additional information, including the scales, scoring, and administration manuals, as well as translation guidelines if your use of the StimQ requires translation to a language other than English or Spanish.
Division faculty members publish in respected medical journals and present at national and international scientific conferences, including the Pediatric Academic Societies, the Society for Research in Child Development, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the International Congress on Infant Studies, the Society for Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, and the National Research Conference on Early Childhood. Members have chaired important committees and programs, such as the Academic Pediatric Association’s Research Scholars Program, and received awards for their research in developmental–behavioral pediatrics.
Here is a selection of their recent accomplishments.
Grandparent coresidence and risk of early child overweight and obesity in low-income, Hispanic families in New York City.: Grandparent coresidence and child obesity risk
Academic pediatrics. 2021 May 28;
Social Capital as a Positive Social Determinant of Health: A Narrative Review
Academic pediatrics. 2021 May-Jun; 21:594-599
Maternal Stress and Infant Feeding in Hispanic Families Experiencing Poverty
Academic pediatrics. 2021 Apr 30;
Pediatric primary care and partnerships across sectors to promote early child development
Academic pediatrics. 2021 Mar ; 21:228-235
Improving Parent-Child Interactions in Pediatric Health Care: A Two-Site Randomized Controlled Trial
Pediatrics (1948). 2021 Mar ; 147:
Enhancing Reach Out and Read With a Video and Text Messages: A Randomized Trial in a Low-Income Predominantly Latino Sample
Academic pediatrics. 2021 Feb 19;
Recommendations for the Biden-Harris Administration. A Statement of Priorities from the Society for Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics
Journal of developmental & behavioral pediatrics. 2021 Feb-Mar 01; 42:152-153
Characteristics of Hospitalized Children With SARS-CoV-2 in the New York City Metropolitan Area
Hospital pediatrics. 2021 Jan ; 11:71-78