Parenting stress in mothers of preterm infants during early infancy

Gray, Peter H., Edwards, Dawn M., O'Callaghan, Michael J. and Cuskelly, Monica (2012) Parenting stress in mothers of preterm infants during early infancy. Early Human Development, 88 1: 45-49. doi:10.1016/j.earlhumdev.2011.06.014

Author Gray, Peter H.
Edwards, Dawn M.
O'Callaghan, Michael J.
Cuskelly, Monica
Title Parenting stress in mothers of preterm infants during early infancy
Journal name Early Human Development   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0378-3782
Publication date 2012-01-01
Year available 2011
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1016/j.earlhumdev.2011.06.014
Open Access Status DOI
Volume 88
Issue 1
Start page 45
End page 49
Total pages 5
Place of publication Shannon, Co. Clare, Ireland
Publisher Elsevier Ireland
Language eng
Abstract Preterm infants follow an altered neurodevelopmental trajectory compared to their term born peers as a result of the influence of early birth, and the altered environment. Infant massage in the preterm infant has shown positive effects on weight gain and reduced length of hospital stay. There is however, limited current evidence of improved neurodevelopment or improved attachment, maternal mood or anxiety. The aim of this study is to investigate the effects of infant massage performed by the mother in very preterm (VPT) infants. Effects on the infant will be assessed at the electrophysiological, neuroradiological and clinical levels.  Effects on maternal mood, anxiety and mother-infant attachment will also be measured.
Formatted abstract
Objective: Mothers of preterm infants during the first year of life may experience stresses greater that those found in mothers of term infants. The aim of the study was to determine the levels of parenting stress and psychological well-being in mothers of very preterm babies in comparison to a control group of term mothers.
Methods: One hundred and five mothers who delivered 124 babies at ≤ 30 weeks gestation were recruited together with 105 mothers who delivered 120 babies at term. At 4 months of age (corrected for prematurity for the preterm babies), the mothers completed the Parenting Stress Index Short Form, the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS), the Dyadic Adjustment Scale (DAS) and the Short Temperament Scale for Infants (STSI). The preterm and term groups were compared.
Results: Questionnaires were returned from 86 of the preterm mothers and 97 of the term mothers. The mean Total Stress score for the preterm and term groups was 67.0 and 63.79 respectively (P = 0.32) with 17% of the preterm and 9% of the term group having high scores (P = 0.135). There were no differences of the EPDS and the DAS between the groups. The temperament of the preterm infants was similar to the term infants. For both groups, scores on the EPDS, DAS and the STSI were independent predictors of Total Stress scores on multiple regression analysis.
Conclusion: Parenting stress in mothers of preterm infants during early infancy does not appear to be greater than that in mothers of infants born at term. For both groups of mothers, depression symptoms, marital satisfaction and infant temperament were independent risk factors for high levels of parenting stress.
Keyword Parenting stress
Term controls
Maternal depression
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ
Additional Notes Available online 22 July 2011

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2012 Collection
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Created: Mon, 07 Nov 2011, 18:59:36 EST by Matthew Lamb on behalf of School of Medicine