Preterm birth enhances the contribution of mothers' mind-mindedness to infants' expressive language development: A longitudinal investigation.Infant Behav Dev. 2017 11; 49:322-329.IB
Maternal mind-mindedness has been shown to be a powerful predictor of many developmental outcomes and to buffer the impact of psychosocial risk conditions, but no study has investigated whether this parental feature might support child development in the presence of biological risk, such as preterm birth. The present study addresses this gap, by investigating whether early maternal mind-mindedness contributes to the growth of a child's linguistic abilities in the following two years of life, and if the contribution of this maternal feature might be stronger in the presence of preterm birth. Forty mother-child dyads (twenty with a preterm infant) were followed longitudinally, with maternal mind-mindedness assessed at 14 months of age and child's expressive linguistic abilities at 24 and 36 months through observational measures. Multilevel models showed that linguistic abilities increased from 24 to 36 months of age, but that this increase was stronger in full-term infants. Maternal mind-mindedness also contributed to this growth, playing a stronger role in preterm infants than in full-term infants. Altogether, these findings contribute more deeply to the understanding of language development in preterm infants and of the joint contribution made by biological risk and environmental factors; from a practical standpoint, they suggest the importance of addressing mother's mind-mindedness in order to support child's language development.