Article Text

  1. S Johnson1,
  2. F Davenport2,
  3. C Glazebrook1,
  4. C Israel2,
  5. R Turner3,
  6. A Whitelaw2,
  7. N Marlow1
  1. 1University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK
  2. 2University of Bristol, Bristol, UK
  3. 3University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK



Objective Previous studies of the long term efficacy of parenting interventions are inconclusive and have rarely focused on the neonatal period. We have evaluated the effectiveness of a parenting intervention in improving cognitive development in very preterm infants.

Methods 233 infants born <32 weeks gestational age, in one of six centres, were recruited to a cluster randomised controlled trial with a crossover design and a three month washout period. Parents in the control group received standard care and parents in the intervention group received the nurse-delivered ‘Parent Baby Interaction Programme’ (PBIP) during the neonatal period and up to six weeks post-discharge. Groups were well matched for baseline maternal and infant characteristics. Cognitive development was assessed at 2 years corrected age by psychologists using the Mental Development Index (MDI) of the Bayley Scales of Infant Development II (BSID-II).

Results 112 infants were recruited in the intervention phases and 121 in the control phases. 195 (84%) were assessed at 2 years. Mean MDI scores did not differ between the intervention (90.9, SD 19.4) and control (92.5, SD 19.2) groups (difference in means: −0.9, 95% CI −5.7 to 3.9). Subgroup analyses revealed positive but non-significant effects of intervention for babies born <28 weeks gestational age and for unsupported mothers.

Conclusions We did not detect a beneficial effect of this early parenting intervention on cognitive development at 2 years in very preterm infants. Parenting interventions may be more beneficial if targeted to vulnerable groups and if commenced after discharge.

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