Commentary: Supporting preterm children's parents matters – a reflection on Treyvaud et al. (2016)

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Abstract

Children born preterm or with low birth weight (LBW) grow up with an increased risk for a range of neurodevelopmental, cognitive, socioemotional, and academic problems. While long-term effects of preterm and LBW birth have traditionally been studied from a deficit perspective, Treyvaud et al. correctly state that the increased risk for impairments in this population urgently requires identification of protective factors. Their new findings add to empirical evidence from observational studies showing that sensitive parenting can protect preterm children from negative developmental outcomes. In order to identify strategies that support preterm children's life chances, well-designed longitudinal studies, such as the one by Treyvaud et al., are indispensable. Next, we will need large randomized trials to test the causality between intervention-induced parenting changes and preterm children's long-term outcomes. We need interdisciplinary and international collaboration to study preterm parent–child dyads within multimethod frameworks and uncover the highly complex mechanisms that shape individual developmental trajectories.

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