Regulatory disorders II: Psychophysiologic perspectives
Many infants exposed to drugs in utero have characteristics similar to a subset of non-drug-exposed infants who have difficulty regulating their behavior. These infants exhibit significant impairments in their ability to regulate internal homeostatic processes (e.g., sleep patterns, digestion, general arousal) and in organizing behavioral and physiological systems in response to environmental challenges. This chapter discusses the behavioral and physiological characteristics of the regulatory-disordered infant and how the construct of regulatory disorders might be useful in the study of infants exposed to drugs in utero.
The impact of prenatal drug exposure on the developing fetus and infant is
difficult to evaluate. The inability to control variables, either through selection or manipulation, makes human research very different from animal studies and highlights the methodological problems. For example, with human research, it is not possible to control drug exposure or to remove all the confounding variables related to outcome.