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Parent experience of caring for neonates with seizures


Objective Neonates with seizures have a high risk of mortality and neurological morbidity. We aimed to describe the experience of parents caring for neonates with seizures.

Design This prospective, observational and multicentre (Neonatal Seizure Registry) study enrolled parents of neonates with acute symptomatic seizures. At the time of hospital discharge, parents answered six open-ended response questions that targeted their experience. Responses were analysed using a conventional content analysis approach.

Results 144 parents completed the open-ended questions (732 total comments). Four themes were identified. Sources of strength: families valued medical team consensus, opportunities to contribute to their child’s care and bonding with their infant. Uncertainty: parents reported three primary types of uncertainty, all of which caused distress: (1) the daily uncertainty of the intensive care experience; (2) concerns about their child’s uncertain future and (3) lack of consensus between members of the medical team. Adapting family life: parents described the many ways in which they anticipated their infant’s condition would lead to adaptations in their family life, including adjusting their family’s lifestyle, parenting approach and routine. Many parents described financial and work challenges due to caring for a child with medical needs. Emotional and physical toll: parents reported experiencing anxiety, fear, stress, helplessness and loss of sleep.

Conclusions Parents of neonates with seizures face challenges as they adapt to and find meaning in their role as a parent of a child with medical needs. Future interventions should target facilitating parent involvement in clinical and developmental care, improving team consensus and reducing the burden associated with prognostic uncertainty.

  • Neurology
  • Neonatology
  • Qualitative research

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