Pitt Mother & Child Project

  • Funding Source: The National Institute of Mental Health, National Institutes of Health
     
  • Years of Funding: 1991 - 2009
     
  • Principal Investigator: Daniel Shaw
  • Publications

The Pitt Mother & Child Project is a longitudinal study of child development. Begun in 1991 by Drs. Daniel Shaw and Joan Vondra as the Pitt Mother & Baby Project, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and National Institute on Drug Abuse provided continuous funding through the year 2015. Since the project’s initiation, our primary goal has been the identification of factors associated with vulnerability and resiliency among low-income boys in the metropolitan area of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. To this end, 310 families with infant boys were recruited from area WIC (Women, Infants, and Children Nutritional Supplement Program) Clinics for participation when children were between 6 and 17 months old. Since that time, family assessments have been conducted at participant’s homes and/or in our laboratory at the University of Pittsburgh when children were ages 1.5, 2, 3.5, 5, 5.5, 6, 8, 10, 11, 12, 15, 17, 20, and 22 years old, with additional phone/internet/mail surveys completed at ages 3, 16, 18, 21, and 23. Multiple family members, including mothers, fathers, and siblings, have participated in the assessments, as well as peers and romantic partners. In addition to collecting reports from teachers on behavior at school through the school-age period, and running a YMCA camp for study youth at ages for two summers at ages 9-11 to obtain peer ratings of behavior, DNA was collected when boys were age 17 and two MRI scans were conducted when young men were ages 20 and 22, respectively. Findings from the study have been used to inform researchers, practitioners, and policy makers in the US and around the world about the salience of the toddler years in the development of early-starting pathways of antisocial behavior, and provided targets for early childhood prevention (e.g., see Early Steps Project).