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Maternal characteristics and the development of children who failed to thrive

Boddy, Janet Marion; (1997) Maternal characteristics and the development of children who failed to thrive. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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The long-term prognosis for infants who fail to thrive is relatively little understood, although early growth faltering has been associated with limitations in subsequent development. Definition of failure to thrive as a feeding disorder implies a need to consider maternal characteristics associated with the syndrome, but research has been limited by theoretical and methodological difficulties. The present investigation explores the long-term correlates of infant growth retardation for the mother and child. Skuse, Wolke and Reilly (1992) studied 47 growth retarded infants and their pairwise matched controls; the author carried out an interview study with this sample when the children were six years old. The thesis questions whether the occurrence of growth faltering was related to child development at six years, and examines links between mother and child functioning. Maternal characteristics associated with having a child who failed to thrive are investigated by exploring case-control differences in mothers' current psychosocial functioning, caregiving cognitions, and childhood care experiences. Finally, the study considers whether mother or child characteristics at age six distinguish any subgroup of previously growth retarded children, in terms of the timing or physical outcome of growth faltering. Case group children were physically smaller than comparisons; they showed some limitations in cognitive functioning, but no social-cognitive deficits. Mothers' characteristics correlated with all aspects of child development, but infant growth faltering was not related to maternal functioning at six years. Mothers whose children failed to thrive early in the first year were better at dealing with child eating problems, and reported lower levels of depression at 15 months than those whose children experienced later growth faltering; maternal problem solving also discriminated between case group children who were smaller or larger for age. The retrospective design precludes inference about the causal nature of observed relationships, but the present study offers valuable insights regarding maternal characteristics associated with the development of children who failed to thrive.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Maternal characteristics and the development of children who failed to thrive
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest.
Keywords: Psychology; Failure to thrive
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10099770
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