Previous research found that being exposed to high maternal sensitivity was linked to improved newborn cognitive development. This connection, however, was influenced by several fixed and adjustable factors. For a study, the researchers sought to determine whether other factors like breastfeeding, maternal depression symptoms, maternal alcohol use, newborn birth weight, or demographic covariates could explain the link between maternal sensitivity and infant cognitive development in the first year of life. Multi-variable regression analyses were used to examine whether breastfeeding, maternal depressive symptoms, and alcohol use were associated with maternal sensitivity, as measured by the Nursing Child Assessment Teaching Scale (NCATS), and infant cognitive development, as measured by the Bayley Scales of Infant Development, Short Form, using data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Birth (ECLS-B) Cohort, a nationally representative sample of U.S. born children. After controlling for demographic factors and infant birth weight, breastfeeding, depressive symptoms, and alcohol usage were not linked to maternal sensitivity ratings. Even after correcting for demographic characteristics and birth weight (R2=.053, p<.001), breastfeeding (β=.079, p<001), depressive symptoms (β=−.035, p<.05), and maternal sensitivity (β=.175, p<.001) were all substantially linked with infant cognitive development scores. After accounting for nursing, the link between maternal sensitivity and infant cognitive development remained unchanged. Instead, both sensitivity and nursing contributed to superior infant cognitive development ratings on their own. Breastfeeding and maternal sensitivity were 2 different ways to help an infant’s cognitive development. The research was notable since it was the first to look at the effects of nursing, maternal depression symptoms, and alcohol consumption on newborn cognitive development after controlling for demographic variables and infant birthweight. Maternal sensitivity was a quantitative attribute that helped infants develop cognitively. Furthermore, after adjusting for several fixed and variable confounders, sensitivity and nursing showed different effects on cognitive development. Understanding the elements that influence the relationship between sensitivity and baby cognitive development could help parents build more successful parenting strategies.
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