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T. Berry Brazelton, M.D.

Photo of BrazeltonDr. Brazelton graduated in 1943 from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City and accepted a medical internship there. In 1945 he moved to Boston to serve his medical residency at Massachusetts General Hospital before undertaking pediatric training at Children's Hospital. His interest in child development led to training in child psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital and the James Jackson Putnam Children's Center. He subsequently served as a Fellow with Professor Jerome Bruner at the Center for Cognitive Studies at Harvard University. There, the process of integrating his dual interests -- primary care pediatrics and child psychiatry -- culminated in 1972 when he established the Child Development Unit, a pediatric training and research center, at Children's Hospital.

Over the years, Dr. Brazelton has published more than 200 scientific papers and chapters. His research has focused on (1) individual differences among newborns and the contribution of the neonate to the parent-infant dyad, (2) the development of attachment between parent and infant over the first four months, (3) cross-cultural studies of infant behavior and early parenting practices, (4) the importance of early intervention to at-risk infants and their parents, and (5) the opportunities presented in early infancy for strengthening families. Sixty pediatric Fellows from the Child Development Unit now conduct research and head training units in pediatric departments throughout the United States.

Dr. Brazelton was president of the Society for Research in Child Development for the 1987-1989 term, and the National Center for Clinical Infant Programs from 1988-1991. In recent years, his growing concern about the pressures and stresses that families face in the 1990s and beyond has led to his frequent appearances before Congressional committees in support of parental and medical leave bills; he has worked to improve child care support for all working parents. In 1989, he was appointed to the National Commission on Children by the U.S. Congress, where he advocated with vigor for disadvantaged children.

One of Dr. Brazelton's foremost achievements in pediatrics is the Neonatal Behavioral Assessment Scale (NBAS), published in 1973 and revised in 1984 and in 1995. Known as "the Brazelton," this evaluation tool is used worldwide, clinically and in research, to assess not only the physical and neurological responses of newborns but also their emotional well-being and individual differences. Increasingly, the NBAS is being used as an intervention to help parents understand and relate to their new babies, and new research is underway to study how it can be used to enhance early discharge from the newborn hospital.

Since 1988, Dr. Brazelton has held appointments as Clinical Professor of Pediatrics Emeritus at Harvard Medical School, where he still teaches and conducts research, and Professor of Psychiatry and Human Development at Brown University. In 1995, Harvard University Medical School established the T. Berry Brazelton Chair in Pediatrics. The first incumbent is Dr. Judith Palfrey, Chief of Pediatrics at Children's Hospital. Dr. Brazelton is actively involved with The Brazelton Touchpoints (www.Touchpoints.org); a preventive outreach program which trains professionals nationwide to better serve families of infants and toddlers. He is also on the faculty of the Brazelton Institute (www.Brazelton-Institute.com); where he continues to be involved in teaching and research with the Neonatal Behavioral Assessment Scale.

 

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