Prevalence and Correlates of Posttraumatic Stress and Postpartum Depression in Parents of Infants in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)

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The purpose of this study was to assess the prevalence and correlates of acute stress disorder (ASD) and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in mothers and fathers, and postpartum depression (PPD) in mothers, of infants in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). 86 mothers and 41 fathers completed measures of ASD and of parent perception of infant medical severity 3–5 days after the infant's NICU admission (T1), and measures of PTSD and PPD 30 days later (T2). 35% of mothers and 24% of fathers met ASD diagnostic criteria at T1, and 15% of mothers and 8% of fathers met PTSD diagnostic criteria at T2. PTSD symptom severity was correlated with concurrent stressors and family history of anxiety and depression. Rates of ASD/PTSD in parents of hospitalized infants are consistent with rates in other acute illness and injury populations, suggesting relevance of traumatic stress in characterizing parent experience during and after the NICU.

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