Parental perceptions of infant vulnerability in a preterm sample: Prediction from maternal adaptation to parenthood during the neonatal period

Douglas Michael Teti, Christine Reiner Hess, Melissa O'Connell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

31 Scopus citations


The present longitudinal study of African-American mothers of preterm infants tested the hypothesis that the quality of maternal adaptation to parenthood before infant discharge from the hospital is predictive of maternal perceptions of infant vulnerability later in the infant's first year. As hypothesized, perceptions of infant vulnerability at 3 to 4 months of infant corrected age were predicted by two theoretically relevant measures of maternal adaptation in the neonatal period: mothers' perceptions of their neonates as lethargic and unresponsive to mothers' bids and by low maternal self-efficacy beliefs about feeding the infant. Neonatally obtained maternal self-inefficacy beliefs about their ability to feed the infant in particular proved to be quite robust in predicting mothers' later perceptions of infant vulnerability. Findings collectively suggest that careful attention to the manner in which mothers of preterm infants adapt to parenthood, even before infant hospital discharge, can help clinicians identify mothers at particularly high risk of developing perceptions of infant vulnerability later in the infant's first year. Implications for intervention are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)283-292
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Sep 19 2005


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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