Early neonatal behavior assessment using the Brazelton scale
Moseley, Carol Ann
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Individual behavior can be reliably assessed as early as 48-72 hours after birth with the Brazelton Neonatal Behavior Assessment Scale (BNBAS). The purpose of this study was to provide information about the continuity of individual behavior in the first 72 hours of life. The BNBAS was used to assess intraindividuai stability. Fifty neonates were tested on 32 behavioral items within eight hours of birth and retested at 48-72 hours of life. All had experienced normal prenatal development, normal labor and delivery, and normal adjustment to postnatal environment. For each individual neonate, at the two different time periods responses were paired. Pearson product-moment correlation coefficients were used to determine whether significant correlations existed between responses of neonates at eight hours or less and at 48-72 hours after birth. Significant positive Pearson £_'s were found for 27 of the 32 paired behavioral items. Study results supported the theoretical premise of this investigative study and the conclusions of many previous researchers that individual differences are present at birth and persist over time. Moderate to high correlations of behavioral responses at the two testings suggest early emergence of individuality and behavioral stability in neonates. This contrasts with Brazelton's contention that the neonate is too disorganized to give reliable responses before 48-72 hours of life. In the present study, consistency of behavior was apparent in all three descriptive categories of temperament, ability to self-organize, and social responsiveness. Replication of this study is needed to determine the reliability of early testing in identifying individual behavior patterns among neonates.