Objective: To determine the effect of an early intervention programme (EIP) on low birthweight infants with cerebral injuries.
Methods: Subjects were 23 high-risk low birthweight infants (periventricular leukomalacia 15, intraventricular haemorrhage 5, both 3) receiving care in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at Nagasaki University Hospital. Subjects were randomly assigned to the EIP group (n = 12) or the control group (n = 11). Participants in the EIP group received a Neonatal Behavioral Assessment scale (NBAS)-based intervention combined with developmental support designed to enhance the infants' development and the quality of the parent-infant relationship. The control group received routine medical nursing care without the EIP. The EIP began prior to discharge from the NICU and lasted until 6 months of corrected age. All children were examined on the NBAS preintervention and again at 44 weeks postconceptional age. Maternal anxiety status (STAI) and maternal feelings of confidence in dealing with her baby (LCC) were measured pre and postintervention. Mental and motor development was assessed postintervention using the Bayley Scale of Infant Development.
Results: Orientation and State Regulation of infant behavioural profiles, the STAI and LCC scores significantly improved in the EIP group (mean difference (95% CI): Orientation 0.7 (0.4, 1.1), State Regulation 0.9 (0.3, 1.5), STAI -5.5 (- 9.1, -1.9, LCC 5.3 (4.2, 6.5)), but not in the control group. Bayley mental developmental index (MDI) score in the EIP group was higher than in the control group, but there was no significant difference between the two groups (mean difference (95% CI): MDI 8.5 (- 0.8, 17.8), PDI 6.7 (- 1.9, 15.4)).
Conclusion: The EIP has beneficial effects on neonatal neurobehavioural development and maternal mental health of low birthweight infants with cerebral injuries. This evidence suggests that short-term changes in maternal mental health and infant neurobehaviour promoted by an EIP may serve to initiate a positive interaction between parents and infants.