Evidence-based intervention for young children born premature: preliminary evidence for associated changes in physiological regulation

Infant Behav Dev. 2012 Jun;35(3):417-28. doi: 10.1016/j.infbeh.2012.04.001. Epub 2012 Jun 19.


The current study examined whether changes in maternal behaviors following an evidence-based treatment-Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT)-was associated with improvements in cardiac vagal regulation in young children born premature. Participants included 28 young children (mean age = 37.79 months) that were born premature and presented with elevated externalizing behavior problems. To assess cardiac vagal regulation, resting measures of respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA) and RSA change (withdrawal or suppression) to a clean-up task were derived pre and post-treatment. Results indicated that an increase in behaviors mothers are taught to use during treatment (i.e., do skills-praise, reflection, and behavioral descriptions) was associated with an improvement in children's post-treatment RSA suppression levels. The current study illustrates the important role of caregiver behavior in promoting physiological regulation in children born premature.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Behavior Therapy / methods*
  • Child
  • Child Behavior Disorders / therapy*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Electrocardiography / methods
  • Evidence-Based Practice
  • Female
  • Heart Rate
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Parent-Child Relations*
  • Premature Birth / physiopathology*
  • Premature Birth / therapy*
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Respiratory Rate / physiology
  • Vagus Nerve / physiology