Centers and Institutes

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2015 Inclusion Institute to Feature Pioneers Ann and Kate Turnbull

The 2015 National Early Childhood Inclusion Institute will feature a formidable and multi-talented mother-daughter team renowned for their service and advocacy. Ann Turnbull, co-founder of the University of Kansas’s Beach Center on Disability, and daughter Kate Turnbull, a mindfulness coach who works with children with ADHD, will deliver the keynote address at the popular three-day conference and play key roles in several other Institute offerings.  Read More...

Inaugural Gift from New Voices Foundation Launches Plans for FPG’s 50th Anniversary

Don Stedman, Co-Founder of New Voices Foundation, has presented UNC’s Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute (FPG) with the first donation designated to celebrate FPG’s 50th Anniversary in 2016.  Read More...

FPG Director Odom Warns Against “Snake Oil Salesmen” of Treatments for Autism

FPG director Samuel L. Odom traveled to Dublin last month to tout the importance of evidence-based programs for children and youth with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) for the annual research conference of Ireland's National Council on Special Education (NCSE).  Read More...

Unstable Child Care Can Affect Children by Age 4

A new study from UNC’s Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute (FPG) reveals that disruptions in child care negatively affect children’s social development as early as age 4. However, the study also shows that the effects of child care instability are not unduly large—and some types of instability appear to have no negative impact on children. Read More...

Dr. Cathi Propper awarded two federal grants to study infant sleep

Dr. Cathi Propper, Assistant Director of Training and Research at the Center for Developmental Science, received funding for two new projects on the development of sleep in infants. Her work builds on previous lab-based findings that sleep quantity, quality and problems affect overall health in infants and behavioral problems in young children. Taking this research out of the lab, Propper’s research uses innovative methods and unobtrusive technology to capture infant sleep through naturalistic observation in the home. For example, one of her studies seeks to understand why African American children appear to get less sleep than European American children. Propper and her research team are interested in potential racial/ethnic differences in both physiological functioning and nighttime parenting behavior which may contribute to sleep disparities.

The first study of its kind, infants will wear monitors to record their movement through the night and researchers will set up inconspicuous video recording devices to track infants’ sleep and caregiving behaviors when infants are 3 and 6 months of age. Additionally, Propper’s team will collect data on physiological indicators of infants’ abilities to “self-soothe” - a critical component of infants’ sleep. Through these methods, Propper will determine whether self-regulation during the day is associated with nighttime sleep quality in infants.Propper is also extending this methodology to study the role of sleep, self-regulation, and parenting as related to prenatal cigarette exposure. Despite widely known health risks, recent evidence indicates up to 15% of women smoke during pregnancy. Propper is interested in better understanding how prenatal cigarette exposure affects infant emotion, cognition, and behavior over the first year of life. To do this, her team will follow women through their pregnancies and over the first 9 months of their child's life.

Propper's work has provided rich training opportunities for CDS-affiliated students. Recently, graduate students in UNC-CH's Developmental Psyhology Program, Nick Wagner (CCHD pre-doc) and Marie Camerota, received a grant from the Center of Regulatory Research on Tobacco Control to include a focus on mothers' e-cigarette use during pregnancy within Propper's studies. They will examine, for the first time, e-cigarette use during pregnancy and differences in how much nicotine is delivered to the fetus from e-cigarettes versus traditional cigarettes.

This trio of studies will provide critical information about how prenatal experience, infant's physiology, and parenting behaviors contribue to infants' sleep over the first year of life. In the long term, Propper's work will provide a basis for interventions to improve infant health outcomes.