Maternal and paternal perception of child vulnerability and behaviour problems in very preterm born children.


Preterm born children have more behaviour problems than term born children. Perinatal risks, current child functioning, sociodemographic characteristics, parental psychological distress and parental perceptions of child vulnerability (PCV) have been shown to be risk factors for behaviour problems. However, the role of maternal and paternal PCV is unclear, as these have not been investigated as a risk factor for behaviour problems, with all other risk factors taken into account. Aim of this study is to investigate whether maternal and paternal PCV are independent risk factors for behaviour problems in very preterm (VP) and term born children. The present study is a single centre prospective cohort study. Preterm children (n = 104), born at < 30 weeks' gestation and/or birth weight < 1000 g, and term children (n = 95) were assessed at age 5. Results showed that risk factors for parent-rated behaviour problems were low/middle parental education, VP birth, parental stress and, in VP children, maternal PCV. Risk factors for teacher-rated behaviour problems were low/middle parental education, foreign parental country of birth, intrauterine growth restriction and objective child vulnerabilities. It can be concluded that maternal PCV is a risk factor for parent-rated behaviour problems in VP children. When VP children are presented with behavioural problems, clinicians ought to be aware of the possibility that parents might still perceive their child as vulnerable. The neonatal history of the child, the way parents experienced that period, their perceptions of the child and possible consequences of these perceptions could be subjects for conversation during visits at follow-up clinics.