A new research study has been released documenting the possible connection between how parents interact with their baby in utero and the child's overall development post-natally. Researchers at the Centre for Family Research conducted a meta-analysis study to try and determine if the quality of interaction between parent and child, even before birth, could affect the child developmentally later on. Using data from 14 different studies which encompassed 1,862 parents, the study revealed some important results in this particular field.
In the meta-analysis, studies that were assessed included various interviews and questionnaires related to how the parents felt about their child during pregnancy. The studies separated the parents into two groups: one group in which parents were very positive in terms of their child's introduction into the world and upbringing, and one group where parents were very narrow-minded in terms of whom they think/want their children to be.
After birth, the researchers would observe and analyze the interactions between the baby and their parents and then compare it to which group they were categorized into prenatally. "One measure they were looking for was 'sensitivity'-- the ability to notice, interpret and respond in a timely and appropriate manner to children's signals, for example, if the baby was upset," says ScienceDaily.
In this particular study, there seemed to be a connection between prenatal interaction and postnatal interaction (subsequently, development), but the connection was only seen in mothers and it was slight. Dr. Sarah Foley, the study's first author, explains that although that connection was found, "it is likely to be a part of the jigsaw, rather than the whole story." The study, which is published in the journal Developmental Review, although not entirely definitive in its results, did show that mothers who think highly of their children in utero are more likely to think highly of their children postnatally, which in turn can aid their development.
Children flourish in positive environments and healthy relationships with their caretakers and other adults around them. Researchers, such as the ones in this study, are attempting to determine if increasing the mother's positive attitude toward her baby before they are even born will positively influence the child as they grow and develops after birth. Although there are more aspects to consider, such as mental health and prenatal care, this research did show that providing mothers with a more positive outlook on their situation/baby is more likely to help that child's development after birth.