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DOI: 10.1055/s-0043-1768132; PMCID: PMC11223892


OBJECTIVE:  To identify psychological, medical, and socioenvironmental risk factors for maternal postpartum depression (PPD) and severe psychological distress (SPD) at intensive care nursery discharge among mothers of very preterm infants.

STUDY DESIGN:  We studied 562 self-identified mothers of 641 infants born(NOVI) conducted in nine university-affiliated intensive care nurseries. Enrollment interviews collected socioenvironmental data, depression, and anxiety diagnoses prior to and during the study pregnancy. Standardized medical record reviews ascertained prenatal substance use, maternal and neonatal medical complications. The Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale and Brief Symptom Inventory were administered at nursery discharge to screen for PPD and SPD symptoms, respectively.

RESULTS:  Unadjusted analyses indicated mothers with positive screens for depression (n = 102, 18.1%) had more prevalent prepregnancy/prenatal depression/anxiety, and their infants were born at younger gestational ages, with more prevalent bronchopulmonary dysplasia, and discharge after 40 weeks postmenstrual age. In multivariable analyses, prior depression or anxiety was associated with positive screens for PPD (risk ratio [RR]: 1.6, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.1-2.2) and severe distress (RR: 1.6, 95% CI: 1.1-2.2). Mothers of male infants had more prevalent depression risk (RR: 1.7, 95% CI: 1.1-2.4), and prenatal marijuana use was associated with severe distress risk (RR: 1.9, 95% CI: 1.1-2.9). Socioenvironmental and obstetric adversities were not significant after accounting for prior depression/anxiety, marijuana use, and infant medical complications.

CONCLUSION:  Among mothers of very preterm newborns, these multicenter findings extend others' previous work by identifying additional indicators of risk for PPD and SPD associated with a history of depression, anxiety, prenatal marijuana use, and severe neonatal illness. Findings could inform designs for continuous screening and targeted interventions for PPD and distress risk indicators from the preconception period onward.

KEY POINTS: · Preconceptional and prenatal screening for postpartum depression and severe distress may inform care.. · Prior depression, anxiety, and neonatal complications predicted severe distress and depression symptoms at NICU discharge.. · Readily identifiable risk factors warrant continuous NICU screening and targeted interventions to improve outcomes..

Journal Title

American journal of perinatology





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MeSH Keywords

Humans; Female; Depression, Postpartum; Risk Factors; Infant, Newborn; Adult; Intensive Care Units, Neonatal; Patient Discharge; Anxiety; Mothers; Male; Pregnancy; Gestational Age; Young Adult; Infant, Extremely Premature; Multivariate Analysis; Psychological Distress; Stress, Psychological; Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia


Pstpartum Depression; Risk Factors; Neonatal Intensive Care Units; Patient Discharge; Anxiety; Mothers; Pregnancy; Gestational Age; Multivariate Analysis; Psychological Distress; Psychological Stress; Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia


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This is an open access article published by Thieme under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonDerivative-NonCommercial License, permitting copying and reproduction so long as the original work is given appropriate credit. Contents may not be used for commercial purposes, or adapted, remixed, transformed or built upon. (

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