The temperament of infants born prematurely was studied to examine further the notion that prematurity may be a risk factor for an infant's subsequent social interaction. The Infant Temperament Questionnaire of Carey and McDevitt was revised and revalidated for an Australian population and sent to mothers of infants who had been born prematurely (36 weeks or less) and who were aged 4 to 8 months (corrected for prematurity). Two hundred and twenty-six questionnaires were distributed and 110 (49%) returned. There were no differences between respondents and nonrespondents with respect to gestational age, birth weight, method of delivery, Apgar scores, or perinatal complications.
When compared to a control group (N = 240) of infants born at term and who came from families with similar demographic characteristics, infants born prematurely did not differ significantly on any of the nine temperament dimensions. Both groups had similar proportions of “easy,” “difficult,” and “slow to warm up” infants, and there were no significant differences in maternal global ratings of temperament between the two groups. Comparisons of infants of less than 33 weeks gestation gave results similar to those reported above. These data indicate that infants born prematurely have temperament profiles at 4 to 8 months similar to infants born at term.
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