Anxious Mothers Delay Preemies’ Development
(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Researchers publishing in this month’s Pediatrics find mothers who are overly anxious about the welfare of their premature infants are more likely to have babies who show developmental delays at 1 year.
Investigators from Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston Salem, N.C., studied 116 premature births. All of the infants were born at 32 weeks gestation or less and required supplemental oxygen after birth. Mothers completed standard surveys to gauge their perception of child vulnerability at the time of their infants’ discharge from the hospital, and the infants were assessed for factors that could put them at increased risk for developmental delays at 1 year.
At the one-year follow up, infants were assessed for motor and mental development, and mothers completed a survey aimed at reassessing their perception of their children’s vulnerability. Babies whose mothers scored high on the tests to measure perceptions of child vulnerability were more likely than others to have babies who scored lower on tests to measure psychomotor development but not on tests to measure mental development. The finding was still significant after researchers adjusted the results to take the number of medical factors that might have predicted high perceptions of child vulnerability into account. Mothers who had been most anxious about their babies at hospital discharge were most likely to have continued problems with perceptions of child vulnerability after one year.
The authors write, “Parents may tend to shelter children whom they see as vulnerable, providing fewer opportunities for them to gain independence in activities of daily living.” They call for programs to identify and assist mothers at risk.
SOURCE: Pediatrics, 2004;113:267-273
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