The present study examined parent-infant interaction quality as a potential family mechanism through which the combination of perinatal and sociodemographic risks predicts cognitive development in LBW, VLBW, and full-term infants. Preterm LBW, VLBW and full-term infant-mother dyads were assessed when infants were 6 and 12 months post-term. Of the 117 infants seen at 6 months, 84 (72%) returned at 12 months (44 FT, 20 LBW, 20 VLBW). Level of neonatal risk was coded based on birthweight, Apgar scores, length of hospitalization and intubation, and presence of respiratory complications. At 6 months, mothers and infants were observed playing an interactional game which was scored for degree of reciprocity and engagement, and at 12 months, infant cognitive skills were assessed. Results indicated that, although maternal sociodemographic characteristics did not moderate the relation between neonatal risk and cognitive outcomes, quality of parent-infant interaction mediated the relation between neonatal risk and cognitive development. Reciprocal and engaging dyadic interactions significantly predicted higher cognitive scores, controlling for neonatal and maternal risks and the interaction between risks.
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