Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

AIM: To determine whether, in an impoverished South African community, an intervention that benefitted infant attachment also benefitted cognitive development. METHOD: Pregnant females were randomized to intervention (n=220) and no-treatment control groups (n=229). The intervention was home-based parenting support for attachment, delivered until 6 months postpartum. At 18 months, infants were assessed on attachment and cognitive development (Bayley Scales Mental Development Index [MDI]) (n=127 intervention, n=136 control participants). Infant MDI was examined in relation to intervention, socio-economic risk, antenatal depression, and infant sex and attachment. RESULTS: Overall, there was little effect of the intervention on MDI (p=0.094, d=0.20), but there was an interaction between intervention and risk (p=0.03, ηp2=0.02). MDI scores of infants of lower risk intervention group mothers were, on average, 4.84 points higher than those of other infants (p=0.002, d=0.41). Antenatal depression was not significant once intervention and risk were controlled (p=0.08); there was no association between infant MDI and either sex (p=0.41) or attachment (p=0.56). INTERPRETATION: Parenting interventions for infant cognitive development may benefit from inclusion of specific components to support infant cognition beyond those that support attachment, and may be most effective for infants over 6 months. They may need augmentation with other input where adversity is extreme.

Original publication




Journal article


Dev Med Child Neurol

Publication Date





270 - 276


Adolescent, Adult, Animals, Child Development, Cognition, Community Health Workers, Counseling, Female, Home Care Services, Humans, Infant, Infant, Newborn, Male, Mothers, Object Attachment, Parenting, Postpartum Period, Poverty, Pregnancy, South Africa, Treatment Outcome, Urban Population, Young Adult