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Ital J Pediatr. 2011 Jan 10;37:4. doi: 10.1186/1824-7288-37-4.

The temperament of preterm infant in preschool age.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Faculty of Educational Sciences, University of Palermo, Viale delle Scienze - Ed. 15, Palermo, 90128, Italy.



The study deals with the characteristics of temperament of preterm infants during their preschool age in order to not only investigate likely "difficult or problematic profiles", guided by impairments driven by their preterm birth, but also to provide guidelines for the activation of interventions of prevention, functional to improve the quality of preterm infant's life.


The study involved a group of 105 children where 50 preterm children at the average age of 5 years and 2 months, enrolled in preschools of Palermo. The research planned the child reference teachers to be administered a specific questionnaire, the QUIT, made up of 60 items investigating six specific typical dimensions of temperament (Motor control activity - related to the ability of practicing motor control activity; Attention - related to the ability of guiding and keeping the focus of attention on a certain stimulus; Inhibition to novelty - regarding with emotional reactivity in front of environmental stimuli; Social orientation - meant in terms of attention and interest towards social stimuli; Positive and negative emotionality - regarding the tendency to mainly express positive or negative emotions.


The results show in general how preschool-aged preterm infants, identified by such a study, compared with full-term children, are characterized by "normal" temperament based on a strong inclination and orientation in mainly expressing positive feelings. Yet, an impairment of the areas most relating to attention and motor control activity seems to emerge.


The data suggest specific interventions for preterm infant development and their reference systems and, at the same time, can guide paediatrician and neonatologist dealing with preterm infants, in focalizing and monitoring, even since health status assessments, specific areas of development that, since preschool age, can highlight the presence of real forerunners of maladjustments and likely configurations of cognitive, emotional or behaviour disadaptive functioning.

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