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Collaboration with Yale and NSPCC to help first time mums

The University of Leeds welcomed experts from Yale this week as part of an international collaboration between Yale University, the University of Leeds and the NSPCC.

Minding the Baby is an early intervention programme designed to enhance the mother’s relationship with her child.

Developed by Yale Child Study Centre University and Yale School of Nursing, Minding the Baby is now being delivered in the UK by three NSPCC service centres in Sheffield, Glasgow and York.

Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Dawn Freshwater, and Dr Gary Mountain from the School of Healthcare at the University of Leeds are providing clinical supervision for the programme.

Dr Mountain said: “Minding the Baby will pioneer a new approach in the UK in helping first time mothers cope with the challenges of having a baby. As the research evidence from Yale University suggests, the early years are vital for children’s developments, so we are keen to explore how we can best support the parent-infant relationship at this key stage.

“It’s thanks to close international links with our colleagues from across the water that we are able to develop and learn best practice in intensive home visiting interventions, which means we have the opportunity to make a real difference to vulnerable families here in the UK.”

Minding the Baby involves an intensive, home visiting programme working with vulnerable first time mothers aged 14-25 and their families.

It is based on attachment theory and places particular emphasis on improving ‘maternal reflective’ capacities.

NSPCC social workers and health practitioners work in pairs to visit mums-to-be at home from the seventh month of pregnancy up until the child’s second birthday. This provides on-going help in relation to child developmental guidance, health and care giving advice, crisis intervention and parenting support. The home visitors aim to keep the mother aware of her baby’s physical and mental states and enhance her reflective functioning by continuously voicing the baby’s emotions and intentions.

The team in Yale has been delivering the programme for several years and has been tracking the babies born into this programme up to five years of age in the USA. They have seen some positive results in terms of the physical and emotional health of these babies, the development of secure attachment patterns and lower rates of subsequent quick pregnancies by mums, and lower rates of child maltreatment.

The NSPCC will be evaluating the Minding the Baby programme in the UK, working with independent researchers at University College London and University of Reading.

Internationally renowned experts, Professors Arietta Slade from Yale Child Study Centre University, and Lois Sadler from Yale School of Nursing, visited the University of Leeds on Tuesday 30 October, as part of an on-going partnership to support the delivery of the programme and to share the latest research findings from the USA.

Chris Cuthbert, NSPCC’s head of strategy and development Under 1’s, said: “Babies and toddlers are the most vulnerable members of our society. We are delighted to be working with some of the world’s best experts to deliver services that will make a crucial difference to their lives”

Notes to Editors:

Dr Gary Mountain is available for interview.  Please contact Rachel Barson, press officer, University of Leeds; phone 0113 343 2060 or email r.barson@leeds.ac.uk.

For further information about the NSPCC, please contact Michelle Thompson, Regional Communications Manager, on 0113 218 2718 or email michelle.thompson@nspcc.org.uk