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J Pediatr Health Care. 1989 Sep-Oct;3(5):237-45.

Parental perceptions of vulnerability of formerly premature infants.


This study explores a possible precursor of the vulnerable child syndrome, a constellation of behaviors thought to develop as a result of excessive parental anxiety. Healthy 3-year-old children who had been born prematurely were compared to children born at term, using a single instrument. Mothers of premature infants reported a significantly greater sense of vulnerability about their children than did mothers of term infants. Antecedents and correlates of vulnerability are explored. Mothers with more education reported a greater sense of vulnerability than did less well-educated mothers, while mothers who reported greater well-being and marital satisfaction reported a lower sense of vulnerability. A greater sense of vulnerability was associated with more behavior problems and more somatic and internalizing symptoms. The data have important implications for nurses caring for infants in neonatal intensive care units, as well as in pediatric ambulatory and hospital settings.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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