Parental behavior not affected by stress of premature birth

17 June 2015

A new study has shown that the stress and anxiety of giving birth prematurely do not affect a mother's ability to be a good parent.

Researchers at the University of Warwick have found that mothers of preterm babies are as sensitive and responsive to their children as those who had babies that reached full term, despite the stress and worry of giving birth early.

Children who are born preterm often need special care in the neonatal period including incubator care or assistance with breathing, and previous studies have suggested this stress and separation could impair a mother's parenting behaviour.

In the new study, which has just been published in Pediatrics, two researchers from the University of Warwick's Department of Psychology analysed all previous studies comparing mother-child interactions of preterm and full-term children.

In total, they analysed nearly 4,000 from 34 different studies and found that "there is no evidence for the speculation that parents of preterm children, on average, are less good in their parenting", according to first author Ayten Bilgin from the University of Warwick.

Professor Dieter Wolke, senior author of the paper, said recent findings had indicated that preterm children might need "even higher levels of maternal sensitivity and facilitation to achieve similar cognitive, behavioural outcomes to full-term children".

Posted by Edward Bartel

Health News is provided by Adfero in collaboration with Spire Healthcare. Please note that all copy above is ©Adfero Ltd. and does not reflect views or opinions of Spire Healthcare unless explicitly stated. Additional comments on the page from individual Spire consultants do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of other consultants or Spire Healthcare.

Image Credit: iStock

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