Recently published results from a new, randomized, controlled clinical trial point to hospital-based family nurture or optimal nurturing interactions as powerful forces in helping to prevent or overcome emotional, behavioral, and developmental problems in prematurely born infants. The clinical trials, performed by the Nurture Science Program, reveal how the establishment and maintenance of optimal parent-child interactions can affect the psychological and behavioral development of children.
The results show that babies receiving Family Nurture Intervention had robust increases in infant brain activity (by electroencephalographic power) when the infants reached full term age. Increases up to 36% were observed in the frontal polar region in the intervention group, as compared to the control group.
The electroencephalographic findings in the Family Nurture Intervention study are highly significant because other researchers have reported preterm infants to have deficits related to frontal polar function. In addition, still others have found that infants with greater power in this region have improved cognitive function, language, and attention to regulate and manage emotions at older ages.
Depression in mothers of preterm infants a major problem. The results of this study show that the Family Nurture Intervention mothers benefited from the intervention. Family nurture intervention enhanced maternal caregiving behavior while in the NICU, and reduced levels of anxiety and depressive symptoms at four months post discharge.
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