Mother–infant interactions of medically fragile infants and non-chronically ill premature infants


  • We wish to thank Barbara Goldman, Jennifer D'Auria, Susan Brunssen, Jennifer Daniels, Deborah Nelson, Sharron Docherty, Beverly Dyer, Charlotte Gilbert-Evans, Anne Fishel, and Harriet Able Boone for technical assistance and consultation.


At 6 months corrected for prematurity, 41 medically fragile prematures, 20 medically fragile full-terms, and 28 prematures without chronic illnesses were observed interacting with their mothers for 1 hr. Mothers of non–chronically ill prematures gestured to and touched their infants less, were uninvolved with them for a longer time, and spent less time interacting and looking at their infants than did mothers of medically fragile infants. Medically fragile full-terms slept more than the non–chronically ill prematures. The non–chronically ill premature group played with objects more and exhibited more locomotion. Thus, the non–chronically ill prematures had more mature behaviors but less frequent interactions than did the medically fragile infants. These disparities reflect differences both in the infants' functional maturity and in maternal compensation for infant vulnerability. © 2003 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Res Nurs Health 26:300–311, 2003