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The preterm infant as a social partner responsive but unreadable


, : The preterm infant as a social partner responsive but unreadable. Infant Behavior & Development 6(4): 461-470

The behavioral responses of 16 very low birthweight premature infants and 16 full-term infants to social stimulation were assessed at the time of discharge from the hospital. Each infant was exposed to visual, auditory, tactile and combined auditory and tactile social stimulation. Both groups of infants were more motorically active and less visually responsive when tactually stimulated. Preterm infants differed significantly from full-term infants in their high frequency of body movement and arousal. The two groups did not differ in their ability to orient visually, sustain enface gaze and generally appear socially available. The results suggest a different pattern of response organization in the preterm infant; the infant is able to visually orient to a partner but unable to control erratic body movements, gasps and grunts or frequent shifts in state. As a social partner, the preterm infant, though socially responsive, may not be readable by the caregiver.

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Accession: 006740116

DOI: 10.1016/s0163-6383(83)90271-0

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