Process Studies - Preemie Emotional and Social Development - part 2

Summary of long term impacts on pre-term infants

By Michele Bell

Accordingly, process studies focus on how interactions between caregivers and premature infants may serve to compromise or complement psychosocial development (Minde, 2000). Process studies therefore suggest that the final intellectual or behavioural outcome of premature children depends far more on the care these children receive than on their physical complications alone. That is, long-term developmental outcomes cannot be made based on a continuum of biological problems alone. Furthermore, in order to gain predictive validity from the caretaking environment, studies must take into account the particular characteristics of the infant and the complexity of mutual influences that impact on the transactional systemic system that together may serve to amplify or compliment earlier biological difficulties (Sameroff & Chandler, 1975).

Many researchers argue that it is unclear whether the later adverse childhood behaviours associated with prematurity are a function of the prematurity itself, birth weight, the extended period in which infants are placed in incubators, the post natal course, or the social climate in which the child is raised. While investigating each of these variables and their interactions is beyond the scope of the current investigation, it is nevertheless imperative to bear in mind the multifaceted nature and complexity associated with prematurity and later development. This thesis therefore focuses on only a portion of the literature and concentrates on risk factors operative during the early post-natal period that may be expected to play a pivotal role in the transactional system of psychological development, that is, the premature birth.

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