Difference in mother–child interaction between preterm- and term-born preschoolers with and without disabilities

E.S. Potharst, C. Schuengel, B.F. Last, A.G. van Wassenaer, J.H. Kok, B.A. Houtzager

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Aim: To investigate differences in the quality of mother-child interaction between preterm- and term-born children at age 5, and to study the association of mother-child interaction with sociodemographic characteristics and child disability. Methods: Preterm children (n = 94), born at <30 weeks' gestation and/or birth weight <1000 g, and term children (n = 84) were assessed at corrected age of 5 using a mother-child interaction observation. Disabilities were assessed using an intelligence test, behaviour questionnaires for parents and teachers, and motor and neurological examinations. Results: Mothers of preterm-born children were less supportive of and more interfering with their children's autonomy than mothers of term-born children. This difference was only partly explained by sociodemographic factors. Dyads showed a lower quality of mother-child interaction if children had a severe disability, especially when mothers had a lower level of education. Conclusion: Five years after birth, mother-child interaction of very premature children and their mothers compared unfavourably with term children and their mothers. Mothers with sociodemographic disadvantages, raising a preterm child with severe disabilities, struggle most with giving adequate sensitive support for the autonomy development of their child. Focused specialized support for these at risk groups is warranted. © 2011 Foundation Acta Pædiatrica.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)597-603
Number of pages7
JournalActa Paediatrica
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2012


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