To compare maternal-infant interactions in high- and low-risk groups, we observed infants who had required neonatal intensive care and otherwise similar infants with normal perinatal histories in a follow-up clinic at one year adjusted age. The developmental level as assessed by the Bayley Scales of Infant Development was significantly lower for the high-risk infants than for the control infants at one year of age. Principal component analyses were used to define interaction patterns in each of five situations. Principal component analyses allow a more meaningful analysis of interrelated maternal and infant behaviors than do standard statistical analyses and minimize the likelihood of misleading 'significance' findings resulting from multiple comparisons. Prior to being examined, mothers of control infants were more likely to adopt an 'en face' position, play with, comfort, talk to, and smile at their infants than were mothers of high-risk infants. Control infants were more likely to smile in return. These differences between control and high-risk mother-infant dyads disappeared when the infants' developmental level was statistically controlled. Group differences in maternal-infant interactions independent of the infants' developmental level were observed in only one situation (collection of blood). Specific medical risk factors had little relation to findings at one year. Maternal-infant interaction should be interpreted in relation to the postconceptional and developmental age as well as the postnatal age of the infant.
- infant development
- maternal-infant interaction
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health