Prenatal Substance Exposures in Very Young Children: Developmental Problems and Therapeutic Interventions

PSE all too often dramatically impacts a young child's normal developmental trajectory. Learn important therapeutic intervention strategies to mitigate these effects.

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Approved by Illinois Early Intervention Training Project for:

  • 2 hours in Atypical Development
  • 2 hours in Intervention

Prenatal Substance Exposure (PSE) all too often dramatically impacts a young child's normal developmental trajectory during the critical period of infancy. PSE not only places a young child at risk for growth and development, but can also disrupt the child's ability to interact and develop a secure attachment with their caregiver. Young children with PSE experience self-regulation difficulties and developmental delays because prenatal substance exposures directly impact the brain's information processing abilities, including how the brain processes sensory information. Often these same children experience neglect, trauma, and are removed from their birth parents, subsequently cared for in the foster care system which also influences their developmental outcomes.

How these children's self-regulatory and developmental difficulties present from birth through age five will be addressed in this full-day workshop. Parent education strategies and therapeutic interventions that will help facilitate these children's development will be presented and discussed. 

About the Instructor

Cheryl Pratt, Ph.D., is a Developmental Psychologist, a Child Development Specialist, and a credentialed Infant/Early Childhood Mental Health Specialist. She is an alumnus of St. Xavier University, the Erikson Institute and Loyola University of Chicago. Cheryl has taught at Loyola University, Erikson Institute, St. Xavier University, and was a University Professor in the College of Education and Psychology at Governors State University. Currently she is the 0-3 Coordinator at Children’s Research Triangle. Dr. Pratt is also an Infant/Early Childhood Mental Health Consultant for Illinois State Board of Education Birth to Three programs. She is a member of the Illinois Association of Infant Mental Health Infant/Early Childhood Mental Health credential project and facilitates cohort members through this credential process. She is a member of the Early Childhood Mental Health committee for the state’s Children’s Mental Health Partnership. Dr. Pratt has provided consultations related to developing programs for infants, toddlers, and their families as well as mental health consultation to several Early Childhood programs. Dr. Pratt has presented on a range of Infant Mental Health issues as well as teaching developmental and social-emotional screening and assessment tools. Her research interests include the study of parent-child relationships in dyads experiencing perinatal vulnerability, substance abuse, and other pediatric chronic and acute illnesses.


After attending this workshop, participants will be able to:

  • describe the impact of PSE to alcohol and illicit drugs to the developing fetal brain;
  • analyze neurodevelopmental changes in the young child prenatally exposed to alcohol and illicit drugs;
  • discuss therapeutic interventions for young children with PSE

Upcoming courses