Effects of sensitive parenting on the academic resilience of very preterm and very low birth weight adolescents

J Adolesc Health. 2013 Nov;53(5):642-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2013.06.014. Epub 2013 Jul 30.


Purpose: Although sensitive and cognitively stimulating parenting is a powerful predictor of school success, it may not protect against increased neonatal risk resulting from underlying neurological damage.

Methods: A total of 314 very preterm/very low birth weight (VP/VLBW) and 338 term control children were studied from birth to age 13 years. Socioeconomic status was examined at birth. Neurological and physical impairment was assessed at age 20 months, and sensitive and cognitively stimulating parenting at age 6 years. School success was measured from 6 to 13 years of age.

Results: Very preterm/very low birth weight children had lower school success between 6 and 13 years, after statistically controlling for child disability and socioeconomic status. Cognitively stimulating parenting promoted all children's school success whereas highly sensitive parenting at age 6 years partly protected against the adverse effects of VP/VLBW birth on academic outcomes.

Conclusions: Very preterm/very low birth weight children's school success to age 13 years may be partly protected with sensitive parenting in middle childhood, despite the neurodevelopmental impairments associated with VP/VLBW birth. This suggests potential avenues for interventions for children born at high neonatal risk.

Keywords: Academic resilience; Neonatal risk; School success; Sensitive and cognitively stimulating parenting; VP/VLBW birth; Very low birth weight; Very preterm.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Brain Damage, Chronic / psychology*
  • Brain Damage, Chronic / rehabilitation*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cognition Disorders / psychology
  • Cognition Disorders / rehabilitation
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Educational Status*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature, Diseases / psychology*
  • Infant, Premature, Diseases / rehabilitation*
  • Infant, Very Low Birth Weight / psychology*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Maternal Behavior / psychology
  • Mother-Child Relations
  • Parenting / psychology*
  • Play and Playthings / psychology
  • Resilience, Psychological*
  • Socioeconomic Factors