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Research shows parental behavior not affected by stress and anxiety of premature birth

The stress and worry of giving birth prematurely does not adversely affect a mother’s parenting behaviour, according to researchers at the University of Warwick.

Preterm children often require special care in the neonatal period including incubator care or assistance with breathing. Previous research has suggested that this stress, separation and an increased tendency for depression may impair a mother’s parenting behaviour and adversely affect preterm childrens’ long term development.

However, a new paper from the University of Warwick shows that mothers of preterm children, despite the early stress they experienced, were as sensitive and responsive in interactions with their children as mothers of children born at term.

In the study, which has just been published in Pediatrics, two researchers from the University of Warwick’s Department of Psychology analysed all studies that had observed mother-child interactions with preterm children compared to children born at term in the first eight years of life. In total they analysed 3,905 children and their mothers from 34 different studies.

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