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J Pediatr Psychol. 2015 Jan-Feb;40(1):33-44. doi: 10.1093/jpepsy/jsu064. Epub 2014 Aug 11.

Mother-child interactions in the NICU: relevance and implications for later parenting.

Author information

  • 1Waisman Center, Waisman Center, Human Development and Family Studies, and Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Wisconsin-Madison Gerstein2@waisman.wisc.edu.
  • 2Waisman Center, Waisman Center, Human Development and Family Studies, and Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Wisconsin-Madison Waisman Center, Waisman Center, Human Development and Family Studies, and Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Wisconsin-Madison.
  • 3Waisman Center, Waisman Center, Human Development and Family Studies, and Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

This study examined the feasibility of observing mother-child interactions in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), whether NICU interactions related to later interactions, and how interactions related to child and maternal characteristics.

METHODS:

The sample included 130 preterm infants and their mothers, observed in a feeding interaction in the NICU. Dyads were observed through 36 months postterm.

RESULTS:

Observed maternal positive affective involvement and verbalizations in the NICU were associated with the same parenting behaviors at 24 months, social support, socioeconomic status, and being born in the late preterm period. Maternal negative affect and behavior were unrelated to later maternal negativity or child and maternal characteristics.

CONCLUSIONS:

Positive parenting assessed in the NICU appears related to later parenting interaction quality, suggesting early assessment is possible. Maternal negative affect and behavior toward children may not consistently emerge until later in development.

© The Author 2014. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society of Pediatric Psychology. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: journals.permissions@oup.com.

KEYWORDS:

assessment; parenting; prematurity; social support

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