Objective To examine levels of parenting stress in mothers of preterm and term infants when the children were 2 years old; to determine the trajectory of stress over three time periods and to examine the association of maternal and neonatal factors and developmental outcomes with parenting stress.
Design It is a prospective longitudinal study to determine parenting stress in mothers of preterm and term infants with outcomes having been previously obtained at 4 and 12 months. At 2 years, 79 preterm mothers (96 babies) and 64 term mothers (77 babies) participated. The mothers completed the Parenting Stress Index-Short Form (PSI-SF), the Depression, Anxiety, Stress Scale (DASS) and the Child Behaviour Checklist (CBCL). The infants had a neurological examination and the Bayley-III scales were administered.
Results The mean total PSI-SF at 2 years was significantly higher for the preterm group compared with the term group of mothers (p=0.007). There was a significant increase in the mean total PSI over time for the preterm mothers (p<0.001). For mothers at 2 years, there was an association with high levels of parenting stress and abnormal scores on the DASS (p<0.001) and high total T-scores on the CBCL (internalising p<0.001; externalising p=0.006). There was no association between parenting stress and maternal demographics, neonatal factors or Bayley-III results.
Conclusions Parenting stress in mothers of preterm infants continues to be high at 2 years having increased over time. Maternal mental health problems and infant behavioural issues contribute to the stress.
- parenting stress
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Contributors PHG designed the study, performed preliminary data analysis and drafted the manuscript. DME designed the study, collected the data and drafted the manuscript. KG made a substantial contribution to the study design, performed detailed data analysis and drafted the manuscript. All authors approved the final manuscript as submitted.
Funding The study was funded by the Mater Mothers' Research Centre through a grant from theMater Foundation.
Competing interests None declared.
Patient consent Detail has been removed from this case description/these case descriptions to ensure anonymity. The editors and reviewers have seen the detailed information available and are satisfied that the information backs up the case the authors are making.
Ethics approval Mater Health Services Human Research Ethics Committee.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.