Brazelton, T. Berry, 1918-

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T. Berry Brazelton, 1918-, AB, 1940, Princeton University; MD, 1943, Columbia University, was Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and at Children's Hospital in Boston, Mass. Brazelton established the Child Development Center, a pediatric training and research center, at Children's Hospital in 1972. He published the Neonatal Behavioral Assessment Scale, commonly known as "the Brazelton", in 1973 as an evaluation tool to assess the physical and neurological responses of newborns, their emotional well-being, and individual differences.

From the description of Personal and Professional Papers, 1955-2006. (Harvard University). WorldCat record id: 231044830

T. Berry Brazelton (1918- ), pediatrician and author, is the founder and former director of the Child Development Unit at Children’s Hospital, Boston and the developer of the Neonatal Behavioral Assessment Scale, often referred to as “the Brazelton.” His main areas of research include developmental processes in normal and at-risk infants, the assessment of neonatal behavior, medical intervention with premature and small for gestational age infants, the development of early mother-infant interaction, and cross-cultural studies of infant behavior .

Thomas Berry Brazelton was born on May 10, 1918 in Waco, Texas to Thomas Berry Brazelton and Pauline (Battle) Brazelton. He attended Princeton University, receiving an AB in 1940 and earned an MD from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1943. Brazelton completed an internship at Roosevelt Hospital in New York City and served in the United States Naval Reserve from 1944 to 1945, after which he became a resident at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston (1945 to 1957), a pediatrics resident at Children’s Hospital (1947 to 1948), a training fellow in child psychiatry at the James Jackson Putnam Children’s Center, Roxbury, Massachusetts (1947 to 1951), and a research fellow in child psychiatry at Harvard Medical School (1948 to 1950).

In 1950, Brazelton began a private pediatrics practice in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and in 1953 became an Instructor in Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School. Brazelton became interested in understanding children beyond pathology and disease and thus began doing research with parents and babies with the goal of achieving a better understanding of an infant's behavioral and developmental progression. As a result of this research, he found that babies were much more aware of their environment than was previously thought; that, for example, a four month old fetus can be startled by loud noises, an infant can distinguish between a drawing of an oval and a drawing of a human face, and a baby as young as three weeks can differentiate between the voice of its mother and the voice of its father. In order to further understand the stages of healthy child development, Brazelton undertook a fellowship at Harvard University’s Center for Cognitive Studies from 1967 to 1971, studying with psychologist Dr. Jerome S. Bruner (1915-).

In 1972, Brazelton established the Child Development Unit, a pediatric training and research center, at Children’s Hospital. The Child Development Unit offered doctors the opportunity to conduct research on child development and train for clinical work with parents and children. While at the Child Development Unit, Brazelton developed the Neonatal Behavioral Assessment Scale (NBAS) in 1973, which he later updated in 1984 and 1995. The Neonatal Behavioral Assessment Scale uses visual, auditory, and tactile stimuli to assess the physical and neurological responses of newborns, as well as their emotional well-being and individual differences. It is used worldwide in clinical and research settings as an early indicator of developmental problems, but also as a way to help parents understand and relate to their children. Brazelton served as Director of the Child Development Unit from 1972 to 1989.

At Harvard Medical School, Brazelton went on to become Associate Professor of Pediatrics (1972), Clinical Professor of Pediatrics (1986), and Professor of Pediatrics, Emeritus (1988). In 1992, the T. Berry Brazelton Chair for Pediatrics at Children’s Hospital was established, with Judith Palfrey assuming the chair in 1995 as the first incumbent. During this time, Brazelton also served as Chairman for the Section on Child Development for the American Academy of Pediatrics (1970 to 1972), President of the Society for Research and Child Development (1987 to 1989), Professor of Psychiatry and Human Development at Brown University (1988), and President of the National Center for Clinical Infant Programs (1988 to 1991).

Brazelton continued to work on children’s issues in the 1980s, accompanying United States Representative Patricia (Pat) Schroeder (Democrat, Colorado) on a nationwide tour to draw attention to family concerns, and serving as a member of the National Commission on Children (1988 to 1991). In 1989, Brazelton wrote a cover story for the New York Times Magazine entitled, “Why Is America Failing Its Children?” in which he detailed the plight of disadvantaged children. In the 1990s and 2000s, Brazelton continued to teach medical students and residents, appear on television programs, lecture widely, and, in 1993, he helped lobby for passage of the Family Leave Act.

During the course of his career, Brazelton has authored over 200 articles and chapters, as well as over thirty books, including Infants and Mothers: Individual Differences in Development (1969), Toddlers and Parents: A Declaration of Independence (1974), Doctor and Child (1976), On Becoming a Family (1981), What Every Baby Knows (1987), The Earliest Relationship (1990), Touchpoints: Your Child’s Emotional and Behavioral Development (1993), and Touchpoints: Three to Six (2001). From 1984 to 1995, Brazelton hosted the television program “What Every Baby Knows,” for which he won an Emmy in 1994, and authored monthly columns in Redbook and Family Circle, as well as a weekly newspaper column distributed by the New York Times Syndication Sales Corporation.

Brazelton married Christina Lowell in 1949. They have four children, Catherine Bowles, Pauline Battle, Christina Lowell, and Thomas Berry III.

From the guide to the Papers, 1949-2007 (inclusive), 1971-2004 (bulk)., (Center for the History of Medicine. Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine.)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Churchill J. Brazelton Correspondence TXRC03-A10., 1942-1946 Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
creatorOf Brazelton, T. Berry, 1918-. Personal and Professional Papers, 1955-2006. Harvard University, Medical School, Countway Library
referencedIn American Association of Advertising Agencies Records, 1918-1998 David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
creatorOf Papers, 1949-2007 (inclusive), 1971-2004 (bulk). Center for the History of Medicine. Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine.
referencedIn Mahler, Margaret S. Margaret S. Mahler papers, 1822-1987 (inclusive), 1924-1985 (bulk). Yale University Library
referencedIn Margaret S. Mahler papers, 1822-1987 Yale University. Department of Manuscripts and Archives
creatorOf Brazelton, Churchill J., 1920-1980. Churchill J. Brazelton Correspondence, 1942-1946. Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
referencedIn Correspondence, 1939-1965. Andover-Harvard Theological Library
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Place Name Admin Code Country
Brazelton Neonatal Behavioral Assessment Scale
Infant, Newborn
Newborn infants--Development


Birth 1918-05-10





Ark ID: w67s9czf

SNAC ID: 19644423