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Keywords:

  • adolescence;
  • attachment;
  • follow-up;
  • preterm

Abstract

Background  Prior studies have examined the impact of preterm birth on the quality of the attachment relationship to the mother in infancy, but few have examined extremely preterm born infants and almost no data have been reported on prematurity and its impact on the attachment organization attained after childhood.

Methods  Thirty-nine adolescents born extremely preterm and 39 full-term born control participants were assessed with the Adult Attachment Interview.

Results  The prematurely born showed lower scores regarding measures of attachment security and, in particular, a higher proportion of insecure dismissive patterns. This difference seemed to be clear and persistent even when controlled for intelligence and socio-economic variables.

Conclusions  Because insecure attachment as well as prematurity may be considered as significant risk factors for developing psychopathology, they deserve careful attention in future research and clinical follow-ups.