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Infant Behav Dev. 2011 Feb;34(1):72-80. doi: 10.1016/j.infbeh.2010.09.009. Epub 2010 Nov 9.

Maternal attachment representations after very preterm birth and the effect of early intervention.

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Developmental Psychology, Tilburg University, Tilburg, The Netherlands.



For very preterm infants the mother-infant relationship may be compromised. Maternal attachment representations 18 (corrected) months after very preterm birth and the effect of the post-discharge Infant Behavioral Assessment and Intervention Program (IBAIP) were studied. The IBAIP is designed to assist parents to support and enhance their infant's regulatory competence and development. The intervention consisted of 6-8 home visits during the first 8 months after birth.


Seventy-eight mothers of very preterm infants (< 32 weeks and/or < 1500 g) were interviewed, who participated in a randomized controlled trial: 41 from the intervention group and 37 from the control group. Maternal attachment representations were assessed with the Working Model of the Child Interview (WMCI). The interviews resulted in a classification of the attachment representations into balanced or non-balanced.


30% of the mothers had non-balanced attachment representations. Qualitative content analysis of the answers showed that negative feelings when first seeing their baby and negative or ambivalent feelings in the first weeks at home with their baby are related to non-balanced attachment representations. The WMCI revealed no differences between the intervention and control group.


Early support for mothers of very preterm born infants to develop a healthy mother-infant relationship is recommended especially for mothers who report negative first experiences.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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