Date of Award


Publication Type

Doctoral Thesis

Degree Name





Psychology, Developmental.



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.


The premature birth of an infant is a stressful event for parents (Fleischman, 1986). However, the duration of and reasons for parental stress are unclear. The present study examined characteristics (i.e., developmental status and behavioural style) of preterm and full-term 2-year-olds and parental stress. Sixty parent-infant dyads were selected and assigned to the following three groups according to the infants' gestational ages: very premature, 24-30 weeks; premature, 31-37 weeks; and full-term, 38-41 weeks. Infants who had sensory deficits or observable congenital anomalies at birth were excluded from the study. The full-term group achieved significantly higher Mental Developmental Indices (MDIs) on the Bayley Mental Scale (Bayley, 1969) than the very premature group; the scores of the premature group did not ditter significantly from the other two groups. These group differences were not significant when MDIs were calculated using ages corrected for prematurity. There were significant differences among the groups in behavioural style as measured by the Infant Behaviour Record (Bayley, 1969). Both premature groups were more active and less attentive to tasks than the full-term group. In spite of these group differences there were no differences among the groups in stress levels reported by the parents on the Parenting Stress Index. When the groups were collapsed there was a negative relationship between the infants' developmental status and parent-reported stress (i.e., the lower the MDI, the higher the stress). Also, parents whose infants' were less task-oriented, less outgoing, and less cooperative reported higher stress levels. It was encouraging to observe that in this study parents of healthy preterm 2-year-olds did not experience their toddlers as any more stressful than did parents of full-term toddlers. It was also encouraging to observe that at 2 years chronological age the MDI means of both premature groups were within the average range without correction for prematurity. The behavioural style demonstrated by both groups of premature infants, however, differed from that of the full-term group. These differences are of concern because they may be related to the higher incidence of learning difficulties experienced by premature children on entering school systems.Dept. of Psychology. Paper copy at Leddy Library: Theses & Major Papers - Basement, West Bldg. / Call Number: Thesis1990 .M377. Source: Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 52-11, Section: B, page: 6107. Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Windsor (Canada), 1990.