Off-campus University of Miami users: To download campus access dissertations, please use the following link to log into our proxy server with your University of Miami CaneID and Password.

Non-University of Miami users: Please talk to your librarian about requesting this dissertation through interlibrary loan.

Publication Date



UM campus only

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


Psychology (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Marygrace Yale Kaiser

Second Committee Member

Christine Delgado

Third Committee Member

Daryl Greenfield

Fourth Committee Member

Alexandra Quittner

Fifth Committee Member

Maria Carlo


Prenatal cocaine exposure places infants at risk for developmental delays, particularly language delays (Chapman, 2000; Lester, LaGasse, & Seifer, 1998), which increase the likelihood that they will require special education services as children and show poor developmental outcomes (Delgado, Vagi, & Scott, 2006). This study used second-order latent growth curve modeling to identify the trajectory of language development of infants from 12 to 36 months of age who had completed a three-year early intervention program. This study also investigated the predictive ability of six factors related to the child, family, and intervention. Child factors included sex, birthweight, and cognitive ability at 12 months, a family factor included mother's education level, and intervention factors included intervention type and age at enrollment. Results revealed that language growth across the two-year period was quadratic, with growth declining initially, then accelerating after 24 months, compared to the nationally normed sample upon which standardized language scores were based. Being a girl, being enrolled in the program soon after birth, and having higher cognitive ability at 12 months predicted higher initial language ability. Intervention group predicted growth in language, such that both intervention groups predicted less or no initial decline compared to the primary care non-intervention group, and the center-based intervention group showed faster acceleration after 24 months compared to the home-based intervention group. Implications of these results on the research literature and practical applications were discussed.


Prenatal Cocaine Exposure; At-risk Children; Language Development