Monday, January 30, 2012

Mothers View Of Preterm Babies

       I think the authors’ choice to study the relationship between genetics and environment and its long term consequences using birth weight was an interesting one. Their explanation was rich with other research to back up their claims. I was very intrigued by the point they brought up about how being labeled “fragile, delicate, or sickly” could be part of the cause of the psychological or physical problems of low birth weight babies. I looked at the study they cited in the Journal of Pediatric Psychology from 1995 where they compared preterm- born 4½ year olds to a comparison group of 4½ year olds born a normal birth. To get around the variable of how the type of environment affects the children, both groups lived in environments free from socioeconomic disadvantages often associated with deleterious outcomes. One of the items on one of the tests given to the mothers of both groups of children stated that preterm babies would have more problems later on. An analysis of this item showed that the mothers of preterm children disagreed on this point more strongly than mothers of the comparison children. I found this interesting because the way the book quoted this study made me think that the parents of these preterm children would treat them as “fragile” children possibly causing problems later on. However, from the study it seems that maybe it is the other parents and the other children that view these preterm children as sickly which as a result, causes them to be just that. Both groups of mothers had high expectations about their children. Mothers of preterm children also believed somewhat more strongly in the power of the environment to produce positive outcomes. This point makes sense since these mothers would believe more in the “nurture” effect on their child’s future, despite their “nature” of being a preterm baby. 

1 comment:

  1. Amy's initial interpretation of the Conley's reference to the 1995 study in the Journal of Pediatric Psychology was similar to my own. I too assumed that mothers of preterm babies were somehow coddling their children to the point of stunting their development. Therefore, I find Amy's clarification of the results of the study very interesting.
    However, I'm not sure if it is the other parents and other children's labeling of preterm babies as "sickly" that predisposes them to underachievement. How often is an individual's premature birth widely known enough to illicit labeling by others?
    Personally, I am more inclined to believe that mothers of preterm babies felt the need to stand up for their children during the experiment by supporting the stronger influence of environment during development. This declared stance on the test given by experimenters may not actually have been indicative of the way they actually treat their preterm child. For example, if the mother can observe the child's weakness first hand, they may subconsciously feel the need to treat their child as if they were "fragile, delicate, or sickly". The mothers may even believe that this increased pampering will somehow compensate for their child's weakness in the future.