Parental Mental Health and Early Social-emotional Development of Children Born Very Preterm


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Abstract

Objective The aims of this study were to describe the mental health of parents of children born very preterm and examine relations between parental mental health and early social-emotional development in very preterm and term born children. Methods Participants were 177 children born very preterm and 69 children term born and their parents. At 2 year’s corrected age for the children, parental mental health was assessed using the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-28), and child social-emotional development assessed using the Infant-Toddler Social-Emotional Assessment (ITSEA) and a structured parent–child interaction paradigm. Results Twenty-six per cent of parents of children born very preterm and 12% of parents of term born children reported clinically significant mental health problems. Parental mental health problems were associated with increased risk for dysregulation in very preterm and term children. Conclusions Findings highlight the need to identify and support parents of children born very preterm with mental health difficulties.

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