Parent-infant interaction during the first year of life in infants at high risk for cerebral palsy: A systematic review of the literature

F. Festante, C. Antonelli, O. Chorna, G. Corsi, A. Guzzetta

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Introduction. Perinatal adverse events put neonates at high risk for short and long-term disabilities, including cerebral palsy (CP). The most recent guidelines about early intervention in infants with brain damage have emphasized the importance of family involvement from the very first phases of development. Early parent-infant interactions are pivotal in promoting infant cognitive and social developmental trajectories. However, little is known about the extent to which severe adverse perinatal events can affect the quality of early parent-infant interactions. Patients and Methods. We systematically searched five databases (PubMed, PsycINFO, EMBASE, CINAHL, and Cochrane Library) for the publications assessing parent-infant interactions in infants at high neurological risk within 1 year of age. Articles were selected if they involved direct comparison between high-risk populations and healthy controls or low-risk populations, and if quantitative or semiquantitative tools were used to assess the parent-infant interaction. Measures of parent-infant interaction included infant interactive behaviors, parental interactive behaviors, and dyadic interactive patterns. Results. The search yielded 18 publications that met the inclusion criteria. The articles represent a high level of heterogeneity in terms of infant neurological risk, infant age, and tools assessing interactive behaviors. Both infant and maternal behaviors within the investigated interactive exchanges were reported to be compromised, leading to subsequent overall impairment of the dyadic patterns. Conclusion. While the studies reviewed here provide general and important information, the review did not yield a clear picture of early dyadic interactions in high-risk infant populations. Further observational studies are warranted in order to provide a more accurate knowledge of the early dyadic exchanges between infants at high neurological risk and their parents, as they might provide a critical opportunity for early family centered habilitative interventions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5759694
JournalNeural Plasticity
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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