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The BABL is a research group located at the Yale Child Study Center in New Haven, CT. We are led by Dr. Helena RutherfordOur mission is to use our prenatal findings to reliably identify families that may need additional support and guidance during pregnancy and the postpartum period to optimize parent and child well-being. 


Our research is designed to understand parent and child development, from pregnancy through to the postpartum period. We study mothers and fathers, looking at changes at the level of brain, mind, and behavior with becoming a parent.







We use qualitative measures to capture the transformative experience of becoming a parent by speaking with expectant and current parents, and quantitative measures to assess changes in brain activity and hormonal levels. For example, we employ experimental tasks asking parents to identify emotional expressions in baby faces, and track their eye-movements to monitor which aspects of the baby faces capture their attention.


Beyond parents, we also measure fetal heart rate and movement to understand associations between the developing parent and their developing child. Through follow-up sessions, we seek to assess if our measures during pregnancy predict postpartum parenting, or neonatal brain and behaviour development.


Stay tuned for an explanation of the methods we use at the lab!


Research Projects


The Pregnant Brain

We use a safe and non-invasive technique to measure brain activity in expectant mothers and fathers to understand how parents respond to infant emotional signals even before their own baby is born! In some studies we also measure fetal heart rate and movement and conduct developmental assessments on the baby once they are born.


How Parents Parent

We all parent in different ways and for different reasons! We also conduct tasks on the computer, measure thoughts and feelings by surveys, and measure brain activity to understand more about how parents vary in their parenting. 


Parent Well-Being

We realize that while parenting can be a joyful time, it can also be a difficult time. We also study whether stress, depression, anxiety, and addiction affects parenting.

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