The objective of the research is to compare the relative effectiveness of two interventions in preventing psychosocial disorders in premature infants and in promoting more optimum development. The aspects of development to be examined are: social-emotional, mother-infant responsiveness, physical growth, cognition, quality of infant attachment to mother, and infant competence. Mother-infant pairs will be randomly assigned to one of two interventions: rocking or carrying. In the rocking condition the infant will be rocked by the mother in a rocking infant seat. In the carrying condition the mother will carry her baby around in a soft baby carrier. The mothers will be expected to follow the intervention protocol for a minimum of one hour a day while the baby is in the hospital and will be encouraged to continue with the program after the baby is discharged. Before the intervention groups are recruited and again after, a control group will be enrolled in order to establish baseline data. The mothers will be treated as all mothers currently are and will be followed up with the same measures as the intervention groups. There will thus be three groups, with 40 infants in each. The target population for the study is infants weighing between 1000 and 2000 grams at birth. The mothers come from the low- income population using the hospital's public facilities. For both biological and environmental reasons, these infants are at risk for developmental difficulties and delays, and for maltreatment. Follow-up data will be gathered in the hospital, on the day before discharge, and at 7, 12, and 24 months corrected age. Standardized developmental tests (Bayley, Denver) and videotapes of mother-infant interaction (including the Ainsworth Strange Situation) will be used to assess infant cognitive, motor and social-emotional development. It is expected that the mothers who carried their infants will develop a more responsive relationship with them and consequently the infants will exhibit a secure attachment relationship. It is also expected that the infants will exhibit more competence on age relevant tasks at 24 months. If the present experimental study shows a beneficial effect of early carrying, the use of a soft baby carrier could be instituted on a larger scale as a preventive intervention. This intervention has the advantage of being inexpensive, requiring ongoing supervision, and being easily disseminated.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
First Independent Research Support & Transition (FIRST) Awards (R29)
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Life Course and Prevention Research Review Committee (LCR)
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Columbia University (N.Y.)
Schools of Medicine
New York
United States
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