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Psychological Sequelae in Parents of Extreme Low and Very Low Birth Weight Infants

Abstract

The current study evaluated the psychological sequelae in 66 parents of extreme low and very low birth weight infants (mean weight of 842 g). Parents who had given birth within a 3-year period prior to the study were chosen from the archives of a neonatal ward and surveyed regarding posttraumatic stress, coping strategies, and social support. Thirty-five percent of the parents reported that their child had a handicap. Twenty percent of the women met the criteria of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) at the time of the study, and an additional 10% met the criteria for a subclinical PTSD diagnosis. Female gender, handicap of the child, general distress during hospitalization, distressing contact with hospital staff, experienced distress at homecoming, and emotional coping, explained 72% of the degree of traumatization. Psychological support and intervention is recommended during the hospital stay of a premature infant who has a handicap and after the homecoming to prevent the development of chronic PTSD and reduce the associated distress.

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Correspondence to Ask Elklit.

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Elklit, A., Hartvig, T. & Christiansen, M. Psychological Sequelae in Parents of Extreme Low and Very Low Birth Weight Infants. J Clin Psychol Med Settings 14, 238–247 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10880-007-9077-4

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Keywords

  • Premature infant
  • Low birth weight
  • PTSD
  • Coping
  • Social support