This prospective study examined whether or not a mother's representations of her infant were more often disrupted after premature childbirth. Furthermore, the study examined if different components of maternal interactive behavior mediated the relation between maternal disrupted representations and infant attachment. The participants were mothers of full-term (n = 75), moderately preterm (n = 68) and very preterm infants (n = 67). Maternal representations were assessed by the Working Model of the Child Interview at 6 months post-partum. Maternal interactive behavior was evaluated at 6 and 24 months post-partum, using the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Early Care Research Network mother-infant observation scales. Infant attachment was observed at 24 months post-partum and was coded by the Attachment Q-Set. The results reveal that a premature childbirth does not necessarily generate disrupted maternal representations of the infant. Furthermore, maternal interactive behavior appears to be an important mechanism through which maternal representations influence the development of infant attachment in full-term and preterm infants. Early assessment of maternal representations can identify mother-infant dyads at risk, in full-term and preterm samples.

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Child Psychiatry & Human Development
Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences

Hall, R., Hoffenkamp, H., Tooten, A., Braeken, J., Vingerhoets, A., & van Bakel, H. (2014). Longitudinal Associations Between Maternal Disrupted Representations, Maternal Interactive Behavior and Infant Attachment: A Comparison Between Full-Term and Preterm Dyads. Child Psychiatry & Human Development. doi:10.1007/s10578-014-0473-3