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J Dev Behav Pediatr. 2003 Aug;24(4):233-41.

Effects of infant risk status and maternal psychological distress on maternal-infant interactions during the first year of life.

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  • 1Departments of Pediatrics and General Medical Sciences, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, Cleveland, Ohio, USA.


The associations of infant medical risk, prematurity, and maternal psychological distress with the quality of maternal-infant interactions during the first year of life were evaluated in a prospective, longitudinal follow-up from birth. A total of 103 high-risk very low birth weight (VLBW) infants with bronchopulmonary dysplasia, 68 low-risk VLBW infants without bronchopulmonary dysplasia, and 117 healthy term infants were seen at 1, 8, and 12 months of age. Videotaped feedings at each age were rated using the Nursing Child Assessment Feeding Scale, and mothers completed the Brief Symptom Inventory as a measure of psychological distress. VLBW infant status was related to both maternal and infant behaviors as well as to maternal distress, and these relationships varied with infant age. Overall, VLBW infants displayed fewer responsive, clear interactions, with differences from term infants increasing over time. Maternal distress was related to less cognitive growth fostering for all mothers. Because maternal distress is more prevalent in mothers of VLBW infants postpartum, intervention efforts should focus on assessment of maternal distress and the challenges posed by the interactive behaviors of VLBW infants.

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