Developmental psychobiology

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Environmental factors

The research from the Developmental Psychobiology Lab focuses on early development, from pregnancy until early childhood. We are interested in how the environment influences both the behavior, as well as the physical health of children. Environmental factors that we study include feeding and childcare, as well as maternal well-being and caregiving.

Biological mechanisms

We also focus on the underlying biological mechanisms. How exactly does the early environment affect the child’s development? We study this in innovative ways, for example, by investigating the intestinal bacteria, the stress-system, cel maturation and the composition of breastmilk.


We mostly study typically developed children and our research is primarily longitudinal in nature. This means that we follow the children and their families for a longer period. These are some of our research projects:

  • The BIBO-studie, which we started in 2006. Most parents and children who signed up a long time ago, are still participating!
  • The SMILEY study, research on the wellbeing of the mother and the development of the baby;
  • The NINO study, studying young baby's at the daycare center;
  • The 3B Study, research on breast milk from working moms;
  • The COPE study, which is part of an international study investigating Covid-19 related positive and negative experiences in (future) parents.

A fruitful start

We additionally conduct research within high-risk groups and patients, such as babies with congenital heart disease and pregnant women with preeclampsia. Finally, we also carry out intervention studies, in which we test ways in which we can support children and parents with the goal of, for example, improving their mental health. With our research, we aim to improve the physical and mental health and well-being of children and their parents. Our ultimate goal is to help provide the best possible start for both children and parents!

Read more?

Beijers, R., Hartmans, S., Shalev, I., Hastings, W., Mattern, B., de Weerth, C., Belsky, J. (2020). Testing Three Hypotheses About Effects of Sensitive-Insensitive Parenting on Telomeres. Developmental Psychology, 56(2):237-250.

Stern, J. A., Beijers, R., Ehrlich, K. B., Cassidy, J., & de Weerth, C. (2020). Beyond early adversity: Parenting predicts infants’ physical health in a community sample. Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, 41(6):452-460.

De Weerth, C. (2018). Prenatal Stress and the Development of Psychopathology: Lifestyle Behaviors as a Fundamental Part of the Puzzle. Development and Psychopathology, 30(3):1129-1144.

Participate in research!

Do you want to participate in research with your (unborn) child?


Do you have a question?

Do you have questions about any of these topics? Please get in touch!

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