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Cleft Palate Craniofac J. 2013 Apr 23. [Epub ahead of print]

Early Mother-Child Interaction and Later Quality of Attachment in Infants With an Orofacial Cleft Compared to Infants Without Cleft.


Objective :  The main objective of this study was to assess mother-child patterns of interaction in relation to later quality of attachment in a group of children with an orofacial cleft compared with children without cleft. Design :  Families were contacted when the child was 2 months old for a direct assessment of mother-child interaction and then at 12 months for a direct assessment of the child's attachment. Data concerning socioeconomical information and posttraumatic stress symptoms in mothers were collected at the first appointment. Participants :  Forty families of children with a cleft and 45 families of children without cleft were included in the study. Families were recruited at birth in the University Hospital of Lausanne. Results :  Results showed that children with a cleft were more difficult and less cooperative during interaction at 2 months of age with their mother compared with children without a cleft. No significant differences were found in mothers or in dyadic interactive styles. Concerning the child's attachment at 12 months old, no differences were found in attachment security. However, secure children with a cleft were significantly more avoidant with their mother during the reunion episodes than secure children without cleft. Conclusion :  Despite the facial disfigurement and the stress engendered by treatment during the first months of the infant's life, children with cleft and their mothers are doing as well as families without cleft with regard to the mothers' mental health, mother-child relationships, and later quality of attachment. A potential contribution for this absence of difference may be the pluridisciplinary support that families of children with cleft benefit from in Lausanne.

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