BMJ Publishing Group
Objective: Pregnancy, birth and health complications, maternal mental health problems following preterm birth and their possible impact on early mother – infant interaction at 6 and 18 months corrected age (CA) were explored. Predictors of mother – infant interaction at 18 months CA were identified. Design and methods: This prospective longitudinal and observational study included 33 preterm mother – infant (<33 gestational age (GA)) interactions at 6 and 18 months CA from a socioeconomic low-risk, middle- class sample. The Parent – Child Early Relational Assessment (PCERA) scale was used to assess the mother – infant interaction. Results: ‘ Bleeding in pregnancy ’ predicted lower quality in preterm mother – infant interaction in 6 PCERA scales, while high ‘ maternal trait anxiety ’ predicted higher interactional quality in 2 PCERA scales and ‘ family size ’ predicted lower interactional quality in 1 PCERA scale at 18 months CA. Mothers with symptoms of post- traumatic stress reactions, general psychological distress and anxiety at 2 weeks postpartum (PP) showed significantly better outcome than mothers without symptoms in 6 PCERA subscales at 6 months CA and 2 PCERA subscales at 18 months CA. Conclusions: Our study detected a correspondence between early pregnancy complications and lower quality of preterm mother – infant interaction, and an association between high levels of maternal mental health problems and better quality in preterm mother – infant interaction.
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