Mental health monitoring in parents after very preterm birth

Eline Vriend, Aleid Leemhuis, Monique Flierman, Petra van Schie, Frans Nollet, Martine Jeukens-Visser*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Aim: To evaluate parental mental health monitoring during follow-up care for very preterm (VPT) infants, describe symptoms of anxiety and depression and risk factors for mothers and fathers at 1 and 12 months of corrected age. Methods: Parents completed the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS). Psychological symptoms and risk factors were analysed within and between mothers and fathers. Results: In 4 years, the monitoring reached 1260 (48%) families. Of these, 693 mothers and 340 fathers (300 couples) completed the HADS twice. At 1 month, 22% and 15% of the mothers and 10% and 9% of the fathers, respectively, reported elevated symptoms of anxiety and depression. At 12 months, these rates were significantly reduced to 14% and 9% for mothers and 5% and 4% for fathers respectively. Within couples, anxiety and depression were positively associated. At 12 months, in 20% of the couples, one or both parents reported elevated symptoms. Risk factors were length of hospital stay, migration background, educational level and employment status. Conclusion: The mental health of parents of VPT infants improved, but elevated symptoms were still observed in 17% of included families after one year. Acknowledging and remediating parental mental health remain essential during follow-up care.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2984-2993
JournalActa Paediatrica, International Journal of Paediatrics
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2021

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