Seeing Their Children in Pain: Symptoms of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in Mothers of Children with an Anomaly Requiring Surgery at Birth

    loading  Checking for direct PDF access through Ovid



Assess the presence of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms in mothers of newborns requiring early surgery.

Study Design

Mothers of newborns operated on for a congenital anomaly underwent a semi-structured interview on their experience 6 months postpartum. Interviews were audiotaped, transcribed verbatim, and analyzed for symptoms of the three major criteria of PTSD: re-experiencing, avoidance, and heightened arousal.


A total of 120 mothers took part in the study; their children were affected by one of the following congenital anomaly: esophageal atresia (n = 29); congenital diaphragmatic hernia (n = 38); midgut malformations (n = 38); and abdominal wall defects (n = 15). Two mothers did not show any symptoms; 12 mothers (10%) had one posttraumatic symptom, 77 (64.2%) had two, and 29 (24.2%) had three. Overall, 106 mothers (88.4%) presented at least two symptoms.


PTSD can be considered a useful model to describe and comprehend mothers' reactions in this specific population. Preventive interventions and dedicated follow-up program should be offered to these families.

Related Topics

    loading  Loading Related Articles