Parenting Very Low Birth Weight Children at School Age: Maternal Stress and Coping

Lynn T. Singer, Sarah Fulton, H. Lester Kirchner, Sheri Eisengart, Barbara Lewis, Elizabeth Short, Meeyoung O. Min, Carolyn Kercsmar and Jill E. Baley

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 children’s health, less parent–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 infant’s medical risk.

The Journal of Pediatrics, 2007, 151(5) 463-469

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