Influence of Fathers' Early Parenting on the Development of Children Born Very Preterm and Full Term Academic Article uri icon


  • OBJECTIVES:To examine factors associated with fathers' early parenting behaviors (including very preterm [VPT] birth, familial social risk, child sex, and child medical risk), and the relationship between fathers' early parenting behaviors and later child development. STUDY DESIGN:Participants were 81 VPT (born <30 weeks of gestation) and 39 full-term father-child dyads. Parenting behaviors (sensitivity, structuring, nonintrusiveness, nonhostility) were assessed at 12 months of corrected age using the Emotional Availability Scales, with scores ranging from 1 (low) to 7 (high). At 24 months of corrected age, child cognitive, language, motor, and social-emotional development were assessed. Results are presented as (regression coefficients; 95% CIs). RESULTS:There was little evidence that VPT birth, familial social risk, or child medical risk were associated with fathers' parenting behaviors. Fathers of girls tended to be more sensitive (0.42; 0.18, 0.65), less intrusive (0.36; 0.04, 0.70), and less hostile (0.26; 0.01, 0.50) compared with fathers of boys. Higher structuring was associated with more optimal cognitive (3.29; 1.25, 5.34), and language development (4.69; 2.26, 7.14). Higher sensitivity was associated with more optimal language development 3.35 (0.95, 5.75), and more intrusive behavior was associated with more externalizing symptoms (-1.68; -3.06, -0.31). CONCLUSIONS:Early parenting did not differ between fathers with VPT and full-term children, but fathers' parenting did vary according to child sex. Fathers' early parenting was associated with future neurodevelopment, reinforcing the need to support fathers' parenting, and include fathers in early intervention programs.


  • McMahon, GE
  • Spencer-Smith, MM
  • Pace, CC
  • Spittle, AJ
  • Stedall, P
  • Richardson, K
  • Cheong, JLY
  • Doyle, LW
  • Anderson, PJ
  • Treyvaud, Karli

publication date

  • 2019