Father-Infant Interactions Predict Behavior Problems

Disengaged and remote interactions at 3 months of age predict behavior problems at 1 year

TUESDAY, July 24 (HealthDay News) -- The quality of interactions between fathers and their infants may predict the development of behavioral problems in childhood, according to a study published online July 19 in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.

Paul Ramchandani, D.Phil., from the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, and colleagues assessed data from 192 families with newborns. The interactions between fathers and their infants were assessed in the family home and were coded using the Global Rating Scales. Maternal reports were used to elucidate child behavior problems.

The researchers found that disengaged and remote interactions between fathers and their infants were predictive of externalizing behavioral problems at 1 year of age. There was an increased risk of developing early externalizing behavioral problems in the children of the most disengaged fathers (disengaged [nonintrusive] interactions adjusted odds ratio, 5.33 [95 percent confidence interval (CI), 1.39 to 20.40]; remote interactions adjusted odds ratio, 3.32 [95 percent CI, 0.92 to 12.05]).

"The findings extend the current field of research by demonstrating an association between father-infant interaction and child behavioral problems early in life," the authors write. "This focus on the earliest stages of development is important, as the early postnatal period, along with fetal development during pregnancy, represents a period of crucial development."

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