• mothers and infants;
  • technological dependence;
  • medically fragile;
  • premature infants


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