Identifying mothers of very preterm infants at-risk for postpartum depression and anxiety before discharge

C. E. Rogers, H. Kidokoro, M. Wallendorf, T. E. Inder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

116 Scopus citations


Objective: We investigated whether particular demographics, maternal psychosocial and infant factors identified mothers of very preterm infants at risk for postpartum depression or anxiety at the time of discharge from a level III urban Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Study Design: A racially diverse cohort of mothers (N=73) of preterm infants (gestational age <30 weeks) completed a comprehensive questionnaire at discharge from the NICU assessing postpartum depression, anxiety and psychosocial and demographic factors. Additionally, infants underwent brain magnetic resonance imaging before discharge. Result: Twenty percent of mothers had clinically significant levels of depression whereas 43% had moderate to severe anxiety. Being married (P<0.01), parental role alteration (P<0.01) and prolonged ventilation (P<0.05) were associated with increased depressive symptoms. No psychosocial, demographics or infant factors, including severity of brain injury, were associated with state anxiety levels. Conclusion: Maternal factors, such as marital status, stress from parental role alteration and infant factors, such as prolonged ventilation, are associated with increased depression. However, clinically significant levels of anxiety are common in mothers of very preterm infants with few identifiable risk factors. These findings support the need for universal screening within the NICU.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)171-176
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Perinatology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2013


  • NICU
  • Racial differences
  • Risk factors


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