The objective of this study was to compare severity and determinants of stress and coping in mothers of 8-year-old very low birth weight (VLBW) and term children varying in medical and developmental risk. Three groups of mothers/infants were prospectively compared from birth to 8 years. Maternal psychological distress, coping, parenting/marital stress, child health, and family impact were measured in the children at age 8 years. The results showed that mothers of VLBW children differed from term mothers, reporting less consensus with partners, more concern for their childrenâ€™s health, less parentâ€“child conflict, and fewer years of education attained. Mothers of high-risk VLBW children experienced the greatest family and personal strains and used less denial and disengagement coping. The authors conclude that VLBW birth has long-term negative and positive impacts on maternal/family outcomes related to the infantâ€™s medical risk.
The Journal of Pediatrics, 2007, 151(5) 463-469