Symptoms of post-traumatic distress in mothers of preterm infants have been a subject of mental health research. The aim of this study was to assess the prevalence of and risk factors associated with such symptoms in mothers of preterm infants in Taiwan.
This was a cross-sectional study performed between January 1, 2010 and June 30, 2011. One hundred and two mothers of preterm infants born at less than 37 weeks gestation and with a subsequent neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) stay between 2005 and 2009 were recruited. Participants completed a demographic questionnaire, the Impact of Event Scale-Revised (IES-R), the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D) and the neuroticism subscale of the Maudsley Personality Inventory (MPI). The preterm infants' data were taken from medical records.
The prevalence of symptoms of distress was 25.5% (26/102) in the participants. These symptoms were associated with previous miscarriages, preterm premature rupture of membranes, neurotic personality and depression.
The experience of preterm birth and NICU hospitalization can be traumatic to mothers. Early support for mothers during the preterm infants' NICU stay and transition to home care are recommended.