Very Premature and Very Low Birth Weight Children's Academic Outcomes: The Impact of Sensitive Parenting




White, Annesha
Hussain, Salma


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Purpose: Very premature/very low birth weight (VP/VLBW) children come into this world with a great risk for many developmental issues, some of which only appear during the school years. Consequently, VP/VLBW children tend fall behind full-term and normal birth weight children in academic performance. It would be beneficial to identify protective factors that can improve academic outcomes in these children. The objective of this study was to provide a comprehensive examination of the literature on sensitive parenting as a protective influence on VP/VLBW children's academic outcomes. Methods: A systematic review of the literature was conducted using PubMed, PsycINFO (2009-2019) with keywords such as "very preterm," "very low birth weight," "sensitive parenting" and, "academic outcomes". Studies that did not focus on sensitive parenting and cognitive/academic outcomes were excluded. Data was categorized in a table based on author, publication year, design, intervention, and findings. A PRISMA diagram was used to evaluate the process. Results: Seven longitudinal observational studies met inclusion criteria. All studies showed a strong relationship between sensitive parenting and significantly better long-term cognitive and academic outcomes of VP/VLBW children (> 4 years). Sensitive parenting was shown to boost children's self-control and attention regulation for school success. Additionally, low sensitive parenting was shown to be detrimental to VP/VLBW children. Conclusions: Further research is warranted on sensitive parenting and academic/cognitive outcomes to empower parents with the tools needed to give their children the best chance at reaching their full developmental potential.