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Reading preterm infants' behavioral cues: An intervention study with parents of premature infants born < 32 weeks

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Author: Maguire, C.M. · Bruil, J. · Wit, J.M. · Walther, F.J.
Institution: TNO Kwaliteit van Leven
Source:Early Human Development, 7, 83, 419-424
Identifier: 240054
doi: doi:10.1016/j.earlhumdev.2007.03.004
Keywords: Developmental care · Infant · Premature · Adult · Cues · Female · Humans · Infant Behavior · Infant, Newborn · Infant, Premature · Intensive Care Units, Neonatal · Intensive Care, Neonatal · Male · Parent-Child Relations · Parenting · Parents · Practice Guidelines · Pregnancy · Premature Birth


The effect of a short-term intervention with parents in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) on their knowledge of infant behavioral cues and confidence in caregiving was examined. Ten sets of parents with a total of 22 premature infants born < 32 weeks gestational age admitted to a NICU were enrolled in a time-lag control trial over an 8-month period. The intervention group was given 4 sessions of instructions on preterm infant behavior for a period of 2 weeks. The control group did not receive the instructions. All parents completed two subscales of the Mother and Baby Scale (MABS) at weeks 1 and 3 and a short questionnaire concerning nursing support at week 3. Intervention parents completed a pre- and post-test on knowledge of preterm infant behavioral cues at weeks 1 and 3. There was a significant improvement in the post-test scores concerning knowledge of preterm infant behavioral cues and a higher nursing support score for mothers in the intervention group. Intervention mothers showed no significant improvement in confidence in caregiving. Only half of the intervention group fathers participated in the sessions and there were no significant differences in fathers' scores. While the intervention significantly increased maternal knowledge of infant behavioral cues, there was no significant effect on mothers' confidence in caregiving. Very few fathers participated in the entire intervention. A longer, more intensive program with a larger sample size and finding ways of incorporating more participation from fathers is recommended. © 2007 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.