PremieStart Mother-Baby Interaction Program

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PIRI is dedicated in the quest to make a difference to the lives of premature babies and their families. Over the years we have engaged in a number of projects supporting this vulnerable group. PIRI has been awarded two successive four-year research grant from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) to fund the PremieStart research program.

PremieStart makes a difference!

PremieStart focuses on improving mother-baby interactions through an intensive 8-session training program, held with the mother while the babies are still in hospital.

Mothers of babies born less than 30 weeks gestational age were given the opportunity to be a part of PremieStart, PIRI’s most recent research into the brain development of premature babies. Currently, up to 50% of Victorian preterm infants suffer from one or more developmental difficulties in early childhood. It is hoped that the PremieStart program makes a difference to this at-risk population by reducing stress in the early months after birth – a time when infants are exposed to necessary but painful hospital procedures and are often unable to experience normal levels of physical interaction with their mothers.

The manual and training to deliver this program is available on request.

To download a PremieStart-Beautiful Beginnings brochure click here.


PremieStart: Protecting the Neurological Development of Premature Infants through Stress-Reduction

The primary aim is evaluate the long-term effectiveness of a simple, inexpensive program of stress-reduction for preterm infants (n=123) on measures of cognition and behaviour. We have already demonstrated some early advantages of the PremieStart program in infant development at 6 months and have now compared developmental outcomes at 4 years in intervention and control preterm children, alongside a matched full-term cohort (funded by NHMRC).

Milgrom, J., Newnham, C., Martin, P. R., Anderson, P. J., Doyle, L. W., Hunt, R. W., Gemmill, A. W. (2013). Early communication in preterm infants following intervention in the NICU. Early Human Development, 89(9), 755-762.

Milgrom J, Martin PR, Newnham C, et al. (2019) Behavioural and cognitive outcomes following an early stress-reduction intervention for very preterm and extremely preterm infants. Pediatr Res 86: 92-99.

We are currently preparing the results of the 6-year and 9-year follow-ups of this preterm cohort.