Background Reports have shown that a restrictive child-rearing practice is associated with a negative development in the preterm infant.
Objective To study the effect of an early intervention programme in low birth weight (LBW) children on parental child-rearing practice from 12 to 36 months corrected age (MCA).
Methods LBW infants (birth weight <2000 g) were randomly assigned to an intervention group (IG) (n = 72) or a control group (n = 74). The early intervention programme consisted of seven daily sessions during the week before discharge followed by four structured home visits by specially trained nurses. The unit’s standard procedures were followed for the control group. A child-rearing practices report was administered at 12 (mothers only), 24 and 36 MCA.
Results 146 infants were randomly assigned and the mean birth weight in the intervention group was 1397 g (SD 429) and control group 1382 g (SD 436). Mean gestational age was 30.2 weeks (SD 3.1) in the intervention and 29.9 weeks (SD 3.5) in the control group. The groups were well balanced in baseline characteristics. Mothers reported a significantly more nurturant child-rearing practice at 12 and 24 MCA. There were no significant differences in nurturant child-rearing practice between fathers at 24 and 36 months or between the parents in restrictive child-rearing practices. There was significant agreement between the parents in both groups and a significant change over time in nurturant and restrictive child-rearing practice.
Conclusions This early intervention programme has a positive impact on parental child-rearing practice in preterms. This may have a positive effect on the parent–child relationship and protect against later behavioural problems.