Preschool Siblings at Birth: Short-term Effects


  • Judith Lumley M.A., M.B., B.S., Ph.D.

    1. Judith Lumley, M.A., M.B., B.S., Ph.D., is a Lecturer in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Monash University, Queen Victoria Medical Centre, Melbourne 3000, Australia.
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Questionnaires mailed to the first 100 families that gave birth at the Queen Victoria Hospital Birth Centre showed that 22 brought a preschool sibling to the birth, of whom 15 were girls. Many parents who had planned to bring a sibling did not, and of those who did many failed to provide a caregiver for the child as agreed.

Comparisons between children who were and were not present at birth showed no difference in preparation for the birth, apart from more frequent questions about the baby from siblings who were present. Two months after the birth there were no differences between children present and not present in hostile, affectionate, or regressive behaviors. However, when these were grouped, hostile behaviors were commoner among siblings present, and they were more likely to want to drink from a bottle or the breast than were siblings not present at birth. From this observational study there were no significant short-term ill effects in children in this age group of being present at birth. (BIRTH 10:1, Spring 1983)