IMG_8784This site features news about Professor J. Kevin Nugent, Founder and Director of the Brazelton Institute, Division of Developmental Medicine, Boston Children’s Hospital, Professor Emeritus, the University of Massachusetts and Lecturer, Harvard Medical School.  Dr. Nugent worked with the late T. Berry Brazelton for over 40 years and is co-author with Dr. Brazelton of the Neonatal Behavioral Assessment Scale (NBAS).  (Click below to view a short introductory video on the history of the NBAS featuring Berry Brazelton and Kevin Nugent).

Dr. Brazelton died just short of his 100th birthday in 2018.  He was remembered in the Harvard University Memorial Minutes in 2020, written by Leonard Rappaport, Kevin Nugent and Joshua Sparrow.  Click here to read.

978The Brazelton Institute, welcomed Lise Johnson, MD, as Associate Director on Tuesday, September 4, 2019.  Dr. Johnson brings over 30 years of experience in general pediatrics to her new role as Associate Director, 19 of which have been devoted to newborn care as Medical Director for Well Newborn Care at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Dr. Johnson earned her undergraduate degree in Health and Society from Brown University, and her medical degree from Harvard Medical School, where she is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics teaching and supervising both students and residents. She is an author of the Newborn Behavioral Observations (NBO) system Handbook and has been trained on the NBAS. Currently, Dr. Johnson serves as the Principal Investigator for a Health Resources and Services Administration-funded randomized controlled trial examining the use of the NBO to support first time mothers of late preterm newborns. Lise also serves as the Chair of the Board of Directors of Health Learners, a nonprofit organization that collaborates with the Zambian Ministries of Health and Education to provide a novel model of school-based health care for primary school children in the slums of Lusaka, Zambia.

Dr.  Nugent and his colleagues, Drs. Keefer, Minear, Johnson and Blanchard, developed the Newborn Behavioral Observations (NBO) system, which is being used in clinical settings across the world. He is the author of many books and scientific articles on newborn behavior and parent-child relationships and  He is also the author of Your Baby is Speaking to You, the highly acclaimed, top-ten bestselling book for parents.

Dr. Nugent address the Irish parliament (Oireachtas) Dublin

Leinster House, Dublin: From left: Catherine Maguire, J. Kevin Nugent, Paul D’Alton, Aoife Menton

Read more about Kevin’s recent lectures in Shanghai, Dublin, Wellington, Melbourne, Florence, Oslo, Dublin, Clonmel, Shenzen, Seoul and Montreal.  Recent highlights include the address Dr. Nugent gave at the House of Lords in May 2016, on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the UK Brazelton Centre, and his address to the Irish Parliament (Houses of the Oireachtas), the Joint Committee on Health and Children, at Leinster House, Dublin in November 2015.   The main thrust of the address to the Senators and House Members was that was the first three years of life are a time of massive brain development, with lifelong implications for future mental health.  Policies that support families are critical as the strength and quality of the relationship between parents and family and their children are fundamental to the effective development of children’s brain’s functions and capacity. (For the Minutes of the Committee hearings click here: Child and Infant Mental Health:…: 12 Nov 2015: Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees (KildareStre). 

Psychological Society of Ireland

On his visit to Ireland, Dr. Nugent was also awarded the 2015 Psychological Society of Ireland Presidential Citation by Dr. Paul D’Alton, President of the Psychological Society of Ireland.  The citation read: “In recognition and deep appreciation for your significant contribution to infant mental health and the resulting betterment of the human project”. 

You will find information on NBO and NBAS training workshops, news about his public lectures and media appearances, his ideas about children and parenting.  Professor Nugent is Editor of Ab Initio International, the on-line publication of the Brazelton Institute.  To read Ab Initio International click here:  AB INITIO INTERNATIONAL and for more detailed information on NBO and NBAS news, click on the Brazelton Institute web site at:  https://www.childrenshospital.org/research/centers-departmental-programs/brazelton-institute

NBO and NBAS trainers at Harvard Faculty

Reception at Harvard Faculty Club for NBO and NBAS Trainers with special guests T. Berry Brazelton, Jean Cole, Joanna Hawthorne and Joao Gomes Pedro.

In the International section, read about the NBO and NBAS International Meeting which drew NBO and NBAS trainers from over twenty countries and which took place at Harvard from Nov. 2nd – 4th., 2015 and read about the first NBO training programs that were conducted in France (Brest), Shanghai and Xi’an, Hong Kong, Japan, Switzerland, Brazil and South Africa and trainings conducted across the USA and the UK and in Australia, Ireland, Iceland, Denmark and Norway.  In 2017, a new NBO training site was established in Napa, California, under Kristie Brandt’s direction and in 2018, an NBO training site was established in Johannesburg with Nicki Dawson and Katherine Frost as the first South Africa NBO trainers. In 2019, a new NBO site was created at the University of Wisconsin, Department of Psychiatry, with Roseanne Clark at the helm.  In the following year, Danielle Atkins became the first New Zealand NBO trainer.  Inge Nickell and Merethe Winter established the first Denmark NBO center in Copenhagen in the same year.  In 2021, new NBO training sites were established in Brest, France, with Jacques Sizun and Isabelle Olivard; in Florence, Italy, with Gherardo Rapisardi as Director and Maria Luce Cioni and Viola Fortini, as Trainers.  In Warsaw, Poland, Karolina Isio-Kurpinska and Bozena Cieslak-Osik became the NBO triers for the new Poland NBO site.  Dr. Nugent conducted an Introduction to the NBO in Montreal at McGill University, Division of Child Psychiatry, Jewish General Hospital, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, November 8th, 2019 and at a workshop presented by the Irish Infant Mental Health Association and the Irish Psychological Society in Dublin on November 16th, 2015.

kevin-at-nagoyaIn the Research and Training section you can read about Dr. Nugent’s recent visits to the Shanghai, Oslo, Clonmel, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Nagoya for NBO training, also to the Czech Republic, Ireland, Switzerland, Italy, China, Norway, Portugal, New Zealand and Australia.  He delivered the Keynote Address at the Faculty of Public Health Medicine, Winter Scientific Meeting, Royal College of Physicians, Dublin, Ireland, in November 2018 and at the International Meeting, Meyer Children’s Hospital, FLORENCE – ITALY, May 25th, 2018.  He presented another Keynote Addresses at the New Zealand Association for Infant Mental Health in Wellington in October 2018 and at the Finland Association for Infant Mental Health in Helsinki on May 10th, 2017. He also gave the Open Lecture at the University of Nagoya, Japan in September 2016.  He was also invited to present a Master Lecture at the 15th World Congress for the World Association for Infant Mental Health in Prague on June 1st. 2016.  He was also the Keynote Speaker at the 25th Nordic Infant Mental Health (NFSU) Jubilee Conference in Oslo, Norway on March 10th, 2016. Unni Tranaas Vannebo, NAIMH President and NBO Trainer introduced the conference. The title of his talk was: Beginning in the Perinatal Period – a unique opportunity for preventive intervention and support for parents. Participants came from all over Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Sweden and Finland. Other speakers included Professor Emeritus Lars Smith, Sari Ahlqvist-Björkroth and Mette Sund Sjøvold.

Professor Nugent was also the keynote speaker at Irish Psychological Society Meeting at Galway in November, 2015 and was the keynote speaker at the International conference entitled, “Mi fido di te – I TRUST YOU! ” – A tribute to T. Berry Brazelton, which was held in Rome on March 13-14th, 2015.  He was also the keynote speaker at the NCAST 15th Biennial NCAST Programs Institute in Seattle in Washington in June 2014 and also keynote speaker at the Montclair State University TODD OUIDA CHILDREN’S FOUNDATION CONFERENCE in May of the same year.  He also spoke at the BIDIP conference, “Beyond the NICU: Addressing the Emotional and Developmental Health of NICU Graduates and their Families” on Sat. Nov. 22nd, 2014 at the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology.

NBO and NBAS Trainers at Harvard

NBO and NBAS Trainers at Harvard with Dr. Brazelton and Dr. Nugent and colleagues in 2015

In the International Section, the recent NBO trainings at Ubulele in Johannesburg, South Africa, Belo Horizonte in Brazil are also featured and read about the Conference in honor of Berry Brazelton organized by Professor Gherardo Rapisardi in Rome in March and about the recently completed Brazelton Centre UK NBO Trainers meeting held at the Møller Centre, Churchill College, at the University of Cambridge, England. You can find out about the  NBO Training which took place in Xi’an in China, as well as the eminently successful NBO/NBAS meetings that took place at Edinburgh University on June 12-13th 2014, at the time of the 14th WAIMH (World Association for Infant Mental Health) conference.  Drs. Kevin Nugent and Joanna Hawthorne coordinated and hosted the meetings on both days. The meeting was attended by the 96-year-old Dr. Berry Brazelton and by NBO and NBAS trainers and trainees from around the world who gathered to share their experiences and their ideas with colleagues. (Here is a short video clip of his words of thanks at the Traditional music evening in Edinburgh). Professor Colwyn Trevarthen’s engrossing and elegantly presented keynote address “What infants (and my colleagues) teach us about being human; how to share their conviviality and care for them” set the tone for the program of lectures that followed.  Click here to view the June 13th programme: Understanding the baby and supporting parents using the NBO and NBAS: International perspectives and click on the photo gallery on the right to get a flavor of the atmosphere at the Edinburgh meeting.

NBO Denmark groupIn this section, you can also read about recent NBO training conducted in Reykjavik, Iceland, by Drs. Lise Johnson and Yvette Blanchard on Sept 18-19th., 2014.  NBO training was also conducted in Thisted in North Jutland, Denmark in October by NBO Trainers Jeanette Appleton and Inge Nickell (UK). (NBO group photo on left with convener and organizer, Merethe Vinter).

New NBO trainees in Lillehammer, Norway.

New NBO trainees in Lillehammer, Norway. Nov 2014.

Read about NBO training conducted in Lillehammer, Norway, by Kari Slinning and Nancy Moss (on the left, see NBO group photo with Nancy Moss and Kari Slinning). Read also about Dr. Nugent’s visit to Melbourne to establish a new NBO Training Center, where he also presented Grand Rounds at the Royal Women’s Hospital in Melbourne and at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne. Click here for information on Australia NBO training.

Campbell Paul and Susan Nicolson with NBO trainees in Shapparton, Australia

Campbell Paul and Susan Nicolson with NBO trainees in Shapparton, Australia

Read also about NBO training in Australia.  On the left is a photo of Drs. Campbell Paul and Susan Nicolson with the NBO trainees in Shapparton, Central Victoria.

NBO conference, Xi'an Children's Hospital.

NBO conference, Xi’an Children’s Hospital.

Here on the left, is the photo of the Xi’an NBO Conference Speakers and the NBO trainers and trainees on the occasion of the welcome ceremony at Xi’an Children’s Hospital. Included are Drs. Susan Nicoloson (Australia), Chuen Wai Lee (UK), Hui Li (China), Shohei Ohgi (Japan) and Kevin Nugent.  Mr. Anmao Li, Dean, Mr. Lei Wang, Mr. Lu Wang represented the Xi’an Children’s Hospital.

Click here to view brief video: NBO and NBAS in Xi’an.

Professor Nugent speaks in the Irish Parliament – Oireachtas. 

Professor Kevin Nugent was invited to speak before the Joint Committee on Health and Children, Houses of the Oireachtas, Leinster House, Dublin, on November 12, 2015.  He was joined by Dr. Paul D’Alton, President of the Irish Psychological Society.  The title of his talk was: The first three years of life are a time of massive brain development, with lifelong implications for the child and society.  The main theme of the presentation to the Committee was that the foundations of sound mental health are built early in life, so that early experiences—including children’s relationships with parents, caregivers, relatives, teachers, and peers—interact with genes to shape the architecture of the human brain. Neuroscience has highlighted the fundamental importance of early experiences on the developing brain and the associated risks of poor-quality experiences and environments during the first three years.

The presentation ended by focussing on policy issues.  It was pointed out to the committee that policies supporting families are critical as the strength and quality of the relationship between parents and family and their children are fundamental to the effective development of children’s brain’s functions and capacity. Preventive intervention in the first years results in much higher economic returns than later interventions. “It is never too late to intervene but by the time the child enters school it is very late”.  Read the full text of Professor Nugent’s testimony to the Oireachtas Committee here: Oireachtas Written Submission Nugent

Dr. Brazelton and President Obama

Pediatrician Brazelton smiles as he receives the Presidential Citizens Medal from US President Obama at the White House in WashingtonIn the photo on the left, Dr. Brazelton smiles as he receives the Citizens Medal from President Obama at the White House.  See the Media section for more.  “It is my distinguished honor to award these individuals the 2012 Citizens Medal for their commitment to public service. Their selflessness and courage inspire us all to look for opportunities to better serve our communities and our country.” Says Dr. Brazelton, “I may be 94 years old, but I’m not done. We must all speak up for the children we care for who so often are unable to speak for themselves”.   Watch the White House presentation here. 

In the International and Research sections, read tributes from around the world to our dear friend and colleague, the late Professor Daniel Stern, which appeared in Perspectives in Infant Mental Health, the newsletter of the World Association for Infant Mental Health.

Drs. Nugent, Brazelton, Gomes-Pedro and Tronick

Professors Nugent, Brazelton, Gomes-Pedro and Tronick celebrating Dr. Brazelton’s 95th birthday at the Lisboa conference.

Over 1000 people attend the   International Conference “Valuing Baby and Family Passion – Towards a Science of Happiness” at the Calouste Gulbenkian, Lisbon.  The Conference was hosted by Professor Joao Gomes-Pedro and the Fundacao Brazelton/Gomes Pedro. Among the speakers were Joao Gomes-Pedro, Berry Brazelton, Joshua Sparrow, Barry Lester, Ed Tronick, Marilyn Davillier,  Stefan Klein and Kevin Nugent. Click here to read Kevin Nugent’s presentation in full: The Newborn Period – where hope and happiness meet.  All these presentations are included in a new book,  “Valuing Baby and Family Passion – Towards a Science of Happiness”, which has just been published – see the Books section.

Read Nathaniel Reade’s article, Speaking Newborn, in the For Parents section.  “Babies may not come with instruction manuals, but you can learn a lot just by watching them…….”, he writes.

Finally, click here to read, “Berry Brazelton – le Magnifique” – a tribute by J. Kevin Nugent, from Neoreviews, an official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics”.  The link is as follows: http://neoreviews.aappublications.org/content/20/11/e615.

(Photograph at the top of the page is of a one-day-old baby tracking the red ball during the Newborn Behavioral Observations (NBO)

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  3. Mark Befort, LCSW says:

    Dr. Nugent: thank you for your life-long work. I am wondering if you have every thought about how your work might dove-tail with part of Catholic Theology–specifically the Theology surrounding the Virgin Mary and the Annunciation–how the relationships between God, the Father and the Holy Spirit and the conception of the Christ child at the Annunciation–encapsulated in the Hail Mary prayer–can be a spiritual/meditative way of accessing or practicing many of the important findings of your life-long research to strengthen and enrich the parent child bond? — I work in Mental Health in Los Angeles, CA, and we have a infant and young mothers mental health program at our clinic which is supervised by one of our staff who is currently a fellow in the Napa Institute in California. This fellow–Rocio Luevano–told us about you, the NBO and your work with Dr. Brazelton.
    Thank you
    Mark Befort, LCSW
    Roybal Family Mental Health Center
    4701 E. Cesar E. Chavez Ave.
    L.A., CA 90022

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  8. Rosa Alvarado says:

    Doctor Nugget, the first time I read about the scale of doctor Brazelton was when I was doing my residency in pediatrics back in 1995, I followed the publications years later I bought his book, always applying what I learned from him and I appreciate. always with the pain of not being able to take the course, now although many years have passed, I always invoke my residents to read it. Although I am now 57 years old, my spirit feels young with the desire to continue learning, hopefully and one day I will be able to finance the course. Thank you very much to Dr. Brazelton, for giving us his research

  9. Nick Allen says:

    Dear Kevin
    Just read the Examiner article on the mullingar community college trip to Harvard. Facinating read and its brilliant to see our local school creating such a brilliant foundation for holistic and person centred learning. Both our girls went to Mullingar Community College and they thrived there. Traditionally “the Tech” it would be considered, even today, as not good enough for those with better grades. I don’t need to elaborate I’m sure.

    I always loved how they made everyone feel equal and how teachers had real and very positive relationships with the students.

    I teach entrepreneurship myself ( enterprise Ireland funded and not examined) in AIT (now TUS) in athlone and I use simple but powerful group work to facilitate startup entrepreneurs to get to grips with their businesses. Different to school level learning at one level maybe but we use a classic problem solving approach and evidence based system to drive progress.

    I spent the first half of my career in corporate training and management consulting in London

    It’s great to see people thrive when challenged and great to see innovation from secondary teachers. The mainstream 3rd level system is still so rigid and passive …seems it will never change at times.

    Thanks for the terrific article. I feel proud of those teachers. They’re real innovators.

    Nuck Allen, Knockaville Gaybrook

  10. Daniel B Kessler MD says:

    Dear Kevin,
    I hope this contact finds you and your family in good health! Surprisingly this is the first time I have read this content. I miss you and I miss Berry from my time as a Fellow in Boston (1980-1983). Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) the only times I have used the “scale” was on my own grandchildren and I can’t say it was a fulsome experience but it was fun! Sending love!

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