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Open AccessArticle

Effects of Gestational Age and Early Parenting on Children’s Social Inhibition at 6 Years

Department of Child and Family Studies, The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37996, USA
Department of Psychology, University of Warwick, Coventry CV47AL, UK
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Children 2019, 6(7), 81;
Received: 1 May 2019 / Revised: 18 June 2019 / Accepted: 25 June 2019 / Published: 28 June 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Neurodevelopment of Survivors Born Very Preterm)
Preterm birth (<37 weeks’ gestation) has been associated with problems in social functioning. Whether social inhibition is specifically related to preterm birth and whether early parenting may protect against social inhibition difficulties is unknown. To explore effects of gestational age and early parent–infant relationships on social inhibition, 1314 children born at 26–41 weeks gestational age were studied as part of the prospective Bavarian Longitudinal Study. Early parent–infant relationship quality was assessed postnatally with the parent–infant relationship index. Social inhibition was assessed at age 6 years using an experimental procedure, in which nonverbal and verbal responses were coded into social inhibition categories (disinhibited, normally responsive, inhibited). Multinomial logistic regressions indicated that children with lower gestational age showed more socially disinhibited (nonverbal: OR = 1.27 [95% CI = 1.17–1.40], verbal: OR = 1.23 [95% CI 1.13–1.35]) and inhibited (nonverbal: OR = 1.21 [95% CI = 1.11–1.32], verbal: OR = 1.11 [95% CI = 1.01–1.21]) responses. Good early parent–infant relationships were associated with less verbal disinhibition (OR = 0.70 [95% CI = 0.52–0.93]). Findings suggest that children with lower gestational age are at greater risk to be both socially inhibited and disinhibited. Early parenting affected risk of abnormal social responses. Supporting early parent–infant relationships may reduce preterm children’s risk for social difficulties. View Full-Text
Keywords: temperament; shyness; disinhibition; preterm birth temperament; shyness; disinhibition; preterm birth
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M. Reyes, L.; Jaekel, J.; Wolke, D. Effects of Gestational Age and Early Parenting on Children’s Social Inhibition at 6 Years. Children 2019, 6, 81.

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