Publication Date



Objective: Examine sources, predictors and child outcomes associated with neonatal intensive care unit (NICU)-related stress for mothers of infants born very preterm (VPT). Study Design: Participants were 133 mothers of VPT infants admitted to a regional level-III NICU. At term equivalent, mothers completed the Parental Stressor Scale: NICU and were interviewed about their psychological well-being and family circumstances. Infant clinical data were also collected. At corrected age 4 years, 49 children were assessed for cognition, language and socio-emotional development. Result: Mothers reported moderate to low stress, with parental role alteration considered most stressful and parent–staff communications least stressful. Predictors of overall stress included maternal educational underachievement, stressful life events, postnatal depression and infant unsettled-irregular behavior. NICU-related stress was associated with child anxiety and poorer language development. Conclusion: Parental well-being is an important focus of care in the neonatal setting. Strategies are needed to optimize early engagement and reduce stress levels to assist improved child outcomes.


Institute for Learning Sciences and Teacher Education

Document Type

Journal Article

Access Rights

ERA Access

Access may be restricted.