The perinatal period, a window of opportunity for enhancing parent-infant communication: an approach to prevention

Child Abuse Negl. 1987;11(4):565-79. doi: 10.1016/0145-2134(87)90082-2.


The perinatal period, broadly defined, encompasses the time frame from one year before to 18 to 24 months after the birth of the child. This period constitutes a window of opportunity through which parent-infant interaction may be reinforced, offering the possibility of decreasing the risk of family dysfunction. This review article clarifies the relationship between the enhancement of parent-infant interactions and the prevention of child abuse and neglect. It contains a detailed discussion of the capabilities of the newborn and places in perspective the difficulty experienced when parents who were themselves mistreated in childhood struggle to establish a system of communication with their own newborn children. The perinatal intervention program, a program intended to teach new parents the skills of interaction with their newborns, is described and placed into perspective with other perinatal programs which have been reported to be capable of augmenting the capacity for communication. The authors review the research data demonstrating the efficacy of these perinatal parent-infant programs. The paper concludes with a review of effective interventions, a discussion of what can be expected of each, and suggestions for the practical application of the programs during the perinatal period. The authors recognize that no program taken in isolation is sufficient; taken together they have the ability to improve parent-child relations, and they thus constitute a multifaceted approach to the prevention of child abuse and neglect.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child Abuse / prevention & control*
  • Child Abuse / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn / psychology
  • Parent-Child Relations*
  • Parents / education*
  • Parents / psychology
  • Pregnancy
  • Preventive Health Services