Marylou Behnke, M.D.
College of Medicine, Department of Pediatrics
Dr. Marylou Behnke is a professor emeritus of the Department of Pediatrics, College of Medicine. Dr. Behnke is a board-certified neonatologist and pediatrician. Her clinical career has been dedicated to the care of the high-risk neonate in the neonatal intensive care unit at UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital. For over 20 years, Dr. Behnke served as the medical director of North Central Early Steps at the University of Florida. Early Steps is Florida’s early intervention program for infants and toddlers with or at risk for disabilities and their families.
Dr. Behnke’s research expertise includes study design and methodology related to longitudinal, prospective studies of difficult to maintain cohorts. She has served as one of two principal investigators (along with Dr. Fonda Eyler) on a long-term growth and development project funded by NIH-National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) for more than 17 years. Women who volunteered for the study were enrolled during their pregnancy and their children were followed until their middle teenage years with repeated assessments of their growth and development, evaluated within the context of environmental and psycho-social issues. The data set accumulated over the length of the study is both wide (original cohort 296 with 90 percent follow-up rate) and deep (over 20 data time points which include clinical, psycho-social, behavioral, medical, home, and school assessments).
Throughout her career, Dr. Behnke has served on many NIH review boards and panels, as an ad hoc reviewer for numerous peer-reviewed journals, and as a member of the editorial board for the Journal of Addiction Medicine and Death Studies. She has a sustained publication record with more than 50 refereed articles and book chapters and has received a number of academic awards and honors throughout her career. She was most recently recognized by the College of Medicine with a 2015 Lifetime Achievement award for her many academic contributions.
Dr. Behnke is a core faculty member and serves on the leadership team for the Anita Zucker Center for Excellence in Early Childhood Studies.
Review Panels, Advisory Boards, Committees and Consulting
Board Member, Zambia Mission Fund, 2005 – present
Medical Director and Member, Zambia Medical Mission, 1998 – present
American Academy of Pediatrics, Committee on Substance Abuse, 2003 – 2009
Member, NIH Biobehavioral and Behavioral Processes (BBBP-6) Study Section,1999 – 2002
Member, NIH Human Development and Aging 3 (HUD/3) Study Section, 1998 – 1999
Chair, NIH Human Development Research Subcommittee, National Institute on Drug Abuse, Initial Review Group, 1996 – 1998
Member, NIH Special Review Committee on Human Development Research, National Institute on Drug Abuse, 1991– 1996 (Committee Chair 1995 – 1996)
Member, Florida Interagency Coordinating Committee for Infants and Toddlers, 1995 – 2006
Brain Development, Behavior and Cognition in Pre- and Postnatal Cocaine Exposure
Funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, NIH, R21DA027561-01 (9/15/2009 – 9/14/2013)
Role: Site Co-Principal Investigator
Project CARE (Cocaine Abuse in the Rural Environment)
Funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, NIH, R01DA05854 (1991 – 2007)
Role: Co-Principal Investigator
Book and Monograph Chapters
Woods, N. S., Behnke, M., Eyler, F. D., Conlon, M., & Wobie, K. (1995). Cocaine use among pregnant women: Socioeconomic, obstetrical, and psychological issues. In M. Lewis & M. Bendersky (Eds.), Mothers, babies, and cocaine: The role of toxins in development (pp. 305-332). Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.
Peer-Reviewed Publications and Journal Articles
Warner, T. D., Roussos-Ross, D., & Behnke, M. (2014). It’s not your mother’s marijuana: Effects on maternal-fetal health and the developing child. Clinics in Perinatology, 41(4), 877-894. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.clp.2014.08.009
Behnke, M., Smith, V. C., Committee on Substance Abuse, & Committee on Fetus and Newborn. (2013). Prenatal substance abuse: Short- and long-term effects on the exposed fetus. Pediatrics, 131(3), e1009-e1024. https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2012-3931
Lebel, C., Warner, T., Colby, J., Soderberg, L., Roussotte, F., Behnke, M., Eyler, F. D., & Sowell, E. R. (2013). White matter microstructure abnormalities and executive function in adolescents with prenatal cocaine exposure. Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, 213(2), 161-168. doi.org/10.1016/j.pscychresns.2013.04.002
Warner, T. D., Behnke, M., Eyler, F. D., & Szabo, N. J. (2011). Early adolescent cocaine use as determined by hair analysis in a prenatal cocaine exposure cohort. Neurotoxicology and Teratology, 33(1), 88-99. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ntt.2010.07.003
Eyler, F. D., Warner, T. D., Behnke, M., Hou, W., Wobie, K., & Garvan, C. W. (2009). Executive functioning at ages 5 and 7 years in children with prenatal cocaine exposure. Developmental Neuroscience, 31(1-2), 121-136. https://doi.org/10.1159/000207500
Warner, T. D., Behnke, M., Eyler, F. D., Padgett, K., Leonard, C., Hou, W., Garvan, C. W., Schmalfuss, I. M., & Blackband, S. J. (2006). Diffusion tensor imaging of frontal white matter and executive functioning in cocaine-exposed children. Pediatrics, 118(5), 2014-2024. https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2006-0003
Warner, T. D., Behnke, M., Hou, W., Garvan, C. W., Wobie, K., & Eyler, F. D. (2006). Predicting caregiver-reported behavior problems in cocaine-exposed children at 3 years. Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, 27(2), 83-92. https://doi.org/10.1097/00004703-200604000-00001
Behnke, M., Eyler, F. D., Warner, T. D., Garvan, C. W., Hou, W., & Wobie, K. (2006). Outcome from a prospective, longitudinal study of prenatal cocaine use: Preschool development at 3 years of age. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 31(1), 41-49. https://doi.org/10.1093/jpepsy/jsj027
Behnke, M., Eyler, F. D., Garvan, C. W., Wobie, K., & Hou, W. (2002). Cocaine exposure and developmental outcome from birth to 6 months. Neurotoxicology and Teratology, 24(3), 283-295. https://doi.org/10.1016/s0892-0362(02)00191-5
Eyler, F. D., Behnke, M., Garvan, C. W., Woods, N. S., Wobie, K., & Conlon, M. (2001). Newborn evaluations of toxicity and withdrawal related to prenatal cocaine exposure. Neurotoxicology and Teratology, 23(5), 399-411. https://doi.org/10.1016/s0892-0362(01)00166-0
Eyler, F. D., Behnke, M., Stewart, N., & Wobie, K. (1999). Examiner masking in research on the effects of prenatal cocaine exposure. Journal of Drug Issues, 29(2), 215-224. https://doi.org/10.1177/002204269902900204
Woods, N. S., Eyler, F. D., Conlon, M., Behnke, M., & Wobie, K. (1998). Pygmalion in the cradle: Observer bias against cocaine-exposed infants. Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, 19(4), 283-285. https://doi.org/10.1097/00004703-199808000-00007
Eyler, F. D., Behnke, M., Conlon, M., Woods, N. S., & Wobie, K. (1998). Birth outcome from a prospective, matched study of prenatal crack/cocaine use: II. Interactive and dose effects on neurobehavioral assessment. Pediatrics, 101(2), 237-241. https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.101.2.237
Eyler, F. D., Behnke, M., Conlon, M., Woods, N. S., & Wobie, K. (1998). Birth outcome from a prospective, matched study of prenatal crack/cocaine use: I. Interactive and dose effects on health and growth. Pediatrics, 101(2), 229-236. https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.101.2.229
Behnke, M., Eyler, F. D., Woods, N. S., Wobie, K., & Conlon, M. (1997). Rural pregnant cocaine users: An in-depth sociodemographic comparison. Journal of Drug Issues, 27(3), 501-524. https://doi.org/10.1177/002204269702700305
Casanova, O. Q., Lombardero, N., Behnke, M., Eyler, F. D., Conlon, M., & Bertholf, R. L. (1994). Detection of cocaine exposure in the neonate: Analyses of urine, meconium, and amniotic fluid from mothers and infants exposed to cocaine. Archives of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine, 118(10), 988-993.
Behnke, M., & Eyler, F. D. (1994). Issues in prenatal cocaine use research: Problems in identifying users and choosing an appropriate comparison group. Infant Mental Health Journal, 15(2), 146-157. https://doi.org/10.1002/1097-0355(199422)15:2<146::AID-IMHJ2280150206>3.0.CO;2-H
Woods, N. S., Eyler, F. D., Behnke, M., & Conlon, M. (1993). Cocaine use during pregnancy: Maternal depressive symptoms and infant neurobehavior over the first month. Infant Behavior and Development, 16(1), 83-98. https://doi.org/10.1016/0163-6383(93)80030-C
M.D., College of Medicine, University of Florida, 1976
B.S. in Chemistry, with Honors, University of Florida, 1972
Fellow, Division of Neonatology, University of Florida, 1981 – 1983
Chief Resident, University of Florida Department of Pediatrics, 1979 – 1980
Residency, University of Florida Department of Pediatrics, 1976 – 1979
Key UF Professional Appointments
Leadership Team, Anita Zucker Center for Excellence in Early Childhood Studies, 2011 – present
Professor Emeritus, 2013 – present
Medical Director, North Center Early Steps, 1989 – 2012
Professor, University of Florida, College of Medicine, 1999 – 2013
Selected Honors, Awards and Appointments
College of Medicine Lifetime Achievement Award, University of Florida, College of Medicine, 2015
University of Florida Research Foundation Professorship, 2007 – 2010
University of Florida Research Achievement Award, 1992
Editorial Board Member, Journal of Addiction Medicine, 2007 – 2012
Editorial Board Member, Death Studies, 1983 – 1994