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Abstract

The growing numbers of Latina mothers with low birth weight (LBW) infants in U. S. hospitals prompted an investigation of maternal confidence and caretaking ability in this group. A sample of 54 Mexican-born, Latina mothers with LBW infants was compared with a group of 25 who had full-term infants. Unexpectedly, there was no significant difference in the perceived maternal confidence of the two groups. Behaviors indicative of sensitivity and competence in caretaking, assessed in mothers with LBW infants, did not correlate with maternal confidence. Factors correlated with maternal confidence and caretaking behavior were the mother's age, education, and parity, as well as the infant's birthweight, weight at discharge, and medical complications. Weight at discharge correlated with caretaking behaviors. The strongest predictor of maternal confidence was parity, followed by infant health (fewer medical complications). These factors together accounted for 25% of the variance in confidence, suggesting that other factors that contribute to maternal confidence of Latina mothers need to be identified. © 1993 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.