Maternal characteristics and feelings of distress resulting from the crying of high-risk infants

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To analyze the extent of and factors associated with the range of mothers' feelings when they experienced the crying of their high-risk (HR) infant.


A cross-sectional design was used. A mail survey yielded 127 mothers of HR infants from 61 institutions. The instruments were the: (i) Maternal Distress Score to measure feelings of maternal distress during the infant's crying scale; (ii) Maternal Emotion Scale; (iii) Japanese Beck Depression Inventory – Second Edition; (iv) Visual Analog Scale for the tendency toward anxiety; and (v) a demographic form. The data analysis used descriptive and inferential statistics.


There were no significant differences in maternal distress between the mothers of HR infants and those with normal infants. The high-scoring items for feelings of difficulty in descending order were: “feeling of a gap from life before pregnancy”, “anxious about child-care prospects for the future”, and “feeling of stress when the infant cries”. The low-scoring items were: “child care is not enjoyable” and “I want to feel free when I hear the infant crying”. The factors relating to the mother's distress over her crying HR infant showed a significant positive correlation with the mother's tendency toward anxiety and with the effect of the infant's crying on others, infant feeding, other family members in the same residence, free time, emotions when hearing the infant crying, and feelings of depression.


The emergence of these three high-scoring items show promise for the further refinement of this multidimensional approach to understanding the range of responses experienced by mothers with HR infants. The results are useful for understanding the psychological tendencies of mothers with HR infants and, possibly, in the future might aid in the screening of mothers for those attributes.

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