The effect of perinatal morbidity, child health and maternal influences on social competence at age 12 years in formerly preterm infants

Nicole C Smith, University of Rhode Island

Abstract

Prematurity is a national problem with rates climbing to the highest levels in four decades. Social competence is a critically important skill for children to master in order to become socially competent adults. Social competence is not fully studied in children born prematurely. Yet they are at risk for poorer social competence due to their physical, cognitive, motor and developmental difficulties. The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of perinatal morbidity, child health, and maternal influences on social competence at age 12 in a sample of formerly preterm infants and a full term comparison group. Two hypotheses were tested in a longitudinal descriptive, comparative study of 186 children at age 12 years who were born premature at various levels of perinatal risk (healthy term infants, healthy preterm, preterm with neurologic illnesses, preterm with medical illnesses, and small for gestation preterm). The theoretical framework was the Transactional Model where a child is viewed as a product of the complex interplay between the continuous influences of the child biology and life experience in family and social contexts. Child variables were perinatal morbidity and health status at ages 4 and 12. Maternal variables were maternal involvement, maternal control style, autonomy, and limit setting. Environmental variables were SES and marital status. Differences between groups in teacher-rated social skills did not reach significance in post hoc testing. Race and maternal limit setting accounted for 38.9% (p < .000) of the variance in the social skills scores rated by parents. Maternal control style and maternal limit setting accounted for 25.3% (p < .001) of the variance in social skills rated by teachers. Maternal limit setting and socioeconomic status at age 12 contributed 24.1% (p < .001) of the variance on problem behaviors rated by parents. This study reveals the importance of maternal limit setting in predicting social skills and problem behaviors at age 12. Maternal influences, not prematurity effects, played a larger part in determining social competence in early adolescence.

Subject Area

Nursing

Recommended Citation

Nicole C Smith, "The effect of perinatal morbidity, child health and maternal influences on social competence at age 12 years in formerly preterm infants" (2010). Dissertations and Master's Theses (Campus Access). Paper AAI3451838.
https://digitalcommons.uri.edu/dissertations/AAI3451838

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