Infants admitted to a neonatal intensive care unit: parental psychological status at 9 months
AIM: This paper reports on the 9-month follow-up of parents who had an infant admitted to neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) compared to parents of full-term health infants. The psychological status of the parent groups is compared and factors associated with status change are examined. METHODS: Prospective longitudinal study of random sample of 447 parents (mother and father with an infant admitted to the NICU and 189 parents (mother and father) with term infant not requiring NICU admission. Parents' depression and anxiety symptoms were assessed at infant birth and 9 months later. RESULTS: The increased levels of depression and anxiety symptoms evident in NICU parents after their infant's birth were no longer apparent by 9 months. Higher initial symptom severity and perceived quality of the couple relationship were most commonly associated with improvement. Other factors related to symptoms change were number of baby hospitalizations for fathers and being in the NICU, age and living with the infant's father or mother. CONCLUSION: For the majority of parents having an infant admitted to the NICU does not result in ongoing psychological distress.