Objective. To determine the efficacy of an individualized, family-based intervention with preterm infants and their families.

Design. Randomized, repeated measures intervention outcome study.

Setting. Level III neonatal intensive care nursery.

Patients. Random sample of 34 preterm infants ≤1500 g and their families.

Interventions. Individualized, family-based intervention during the hospitalization and transition to home addressed problems identified by parents in four domains including: infant behavior and characteristics, family organization and functioning, caregiving environment, and home discharge and community resources.

Measurements and Main Results. Standardized questionnaires were administered at baseline and discharge to mothers, and predischarge bottle-feeding interactions were videotaped and coded by two blinded observers. Results were in favor of intervention (Int) versus control (Con) mothers (baseline; discharge) (P < .05) on the Parental Stressor Scale Sights and Sounds subscale (Int 2.4 ± 1.0; 2.0 ± 0.8 vs Con 2.4 ± 0.9; 2.6 ± 0.8); Child's Appearance and Behavior subscale (Int 2.8 ± 1.0; 2.5 ± 1.1 vs Con 2.8 ± 0.8; 3.1 ± 0.6); and Total Stressor Score (Int 93.9 ± 36.6; 72.3 ± 41.8 vs Con 87.5 ± 26.7; 87.8 ± 26.2). On the Beck Depression Inventory, intervention mothers had significant decreases in depressive symptoms (39%; 11%) vs control mothers (31%; 44%). Maternal self-esteem in both groups improved over time. There were no significant group differences in family environment. During feeding interactions, intervention infants grimaced (P < .001) and gagged (P < .05) less than controls. Intervention mothers less frequently interrupted feedings (P < .001); less frequently stimulated infant sucking (P < .01); smiled more (P < .001); vocalized more (P < .01); demonstrated greater sensitivity to infant behavior (P < .001), better quality of physical contact (P < .001), and more positive affect (P < .01).

Conclusions. Individualized, family-based intervention appears to reduce maternal stress and depression, and to enhance early mother-infant feeding interactions. Further research is needed to determine whether these short-term beneficial effects persist beyond the newborn period.

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