The Influence of Maternal Cognitions Upon Motor Development in Infants Born Preterm: A Scoping Review

Sandra Jensen-Willett, Departments of Physical Therapy (Dr Jensen-Willett) and Education and Child Development (Drs Miller and Jackson), Munroe-Meyer Institute (MMI), University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC), Omaha, Nebraska; Physical Therapy (Dr Harbourne), Rangos School of Health Sciences, Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Kerry Miller
Barbara Jackson
Regina Harbourne


PURPOSE: This scoping review summarizes the extent, nature, and type of evidence linking broadly defined maternal cognitions to motor outcomes in infants born preterm. Maternal cognitions are beliefs, perceptions, or psychosocial attributes that inform parenting practices. METHODS: Arksey and O'Malley's 5-step method was applied. Thirteen articles between 1980 and November 2019 met inclusion criteria. RESULTS: Two key themes emerged with infants born preterm: (1) quality of the social and physical caregiving environment influence developmental outcomes with implications for motor development; and (2) complex interactions between environmental factors, prematurity-related biomedical risks, and maternal cognitions contribute to eventual motor outcomes. CONCLUSION: Further research is needed to understand how maternal cognitions either scaffold or constrain early motor opportunities for infants born preterm and at risk for motor delays. WHAT THIS ADDS TO THE EVIDENCE: This review summarizes studies that explore potential links between maternal cognitions and motor development in infants born preterm.