The Role of the Early Family Environment in Child Behavioral Health


Principal Investigator: Becca Brock
Funding Agency/Institute: Great Plains IDeA-CTR
Status: Pending review
Planned Project Period: 07/01/2019-06/30/2020

The long-term goal of this research is to understand the role of the multifaceted family system in mental and physical health. Guided by family systems theory, the objective of this project is to conduct a comprehensive, multimethod investigation of the family system during pregnancy and the first two years of life to identify the family processes having the greatest impact on child health outcomes during preschool age. This approach will allow us to identify the family processes impacting the earliest stages of executive control development and indicators of early risk for obesity assessed during a new wave of data collection when the target child turns 3.5 years of age. A novel feature of this research is the investigation of the family environment prior to the infant joining the family to examine how this sets the stage for adaptive versus maladaptive family conditions during the first two years of life when children are at peak sensitivity to environment. Further, our comprehensive approach to studying the family will be enriched with highly innovative continuous time interaction and ecological momentary assessment technologies using the Open Dynamic Interaction Network (ODIN). These data collection techniques will capture interactions among family members as they unfold in real time in the home. The expected outcome of this project is novel and compelling preliminary data to support multiple NIH R01 applications in the areas of early family environment, executive control development, and pediatric obesity risk.