The association of infant temperament and maternal sensitivity in preterm and full-term infants
Infants who experience sensitive caregiving are at lower risk for numerous adverse outcomes. This is especially true for infants born preterm, leading them to be more susceptible to risks associated with poorer quality caregiving. Some research suggests that preterm and full-term infants differ on temperament, which may contribute to these findings. This study aimed to investigate associations between infant temperament (negative emotionality, positive affectivity/surgency, and orienting/regulatory capacity) and maternal sensitivity among infants born preterm (M = 30.2 weeks) and full term. It was hypothesized that mothers of infants born preterm and mothers of infants with more difficult temperaments would display lower sensitivity, indicated by lower responsiveness to nondistress, lower positive regard, and higher intrusiveness. Videotaped play interactions and a measure of temperament (Infant Behavior Questionnaire) were coded for 18 preterm and 44 full-term infants at 9 months (corrected) age. Results suggest that mothers of preterm and full-term infants differed significantly in responding to their infants, but these results cannot be explained by infant temperament. Preterm status and sociodemographic risk emerged as correlates of maternal behavior, such that mothers of infants born preterm and mothers with greater sociodemographic risk displayed lower levels of maternal sensitivity.
Infant mental health journal
Vaccaro SM, Tofighi D, Moss N, Rieger R, Lowe JR, Phillips J, Erickson SJ. The association of infant temperament and maternal sensitivity in preterm and full-term infants. Infant Ment Health J. 2021 May;42(3):374-385. doi: 10.1002/imhj.21915. Epub 2021 Apr 9. PMID: 33836096.