Background: The attachment relationships of infants reared in residential group care from birth, and links between attachment quality and psychosocial development and caregiver sensitivity were studied, with 86 infants reared in group care and 41 infants reared in their own two-parent families who attended day-care centres.
Methods: Attachment, cognitive development, temperament, and observed social behaviour of the two groups were studied, as was the quality of care by caregivers and mothers.
Results: Sixty-six per cent of infants reared in residential group care showed disorganised attachment to their caregivers, compared with 25% of control infants; 24% of group care infants were securely attached, compared with 41% of control infants. The two groups differed in cognitive development, in temperament and observed social behaviour. Within the residential group care babies, those that were securely attached were observed to express more frequent positive affect and social behaviour, and to initiate more frequent interaction with their caregivers.
Conclusions: Residential care affected all aspects of the infants' development and was linked to a high rate of disorganised attachment.