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Parenting stress in mothers of preterm infants during early infancy

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-19, 10:12 authored by Gray, PH, Edwards, DM, O'Callaghan, MJ, Monica CuskellyMonica Cuskelly

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.


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Early Human Development








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Elsevier Sci Ireland Ltd

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