Premature births send parents into deep depression, study finds

Premature births send parents into deep depression, study finds

The study also said that both mothers and fathers experienced overwhelming grief and uncertainty following a pre-term birth

Parents want their children to be born normal and healthy and without complications; no wonder they fall into deep depression when their child is born pre-term.

In fact, Australian researchers are now alarmed by the high levels of depression suffered by parents of premature babies.

Conducted by Murdoch Children's Research Institute, a study revealed that these parents are seven times more likely to battle depression.

“The study found 40 per cent of mothers and 36 per cent of fathers suffered from depression in the early weeks after the birth of a premature baby,” says an ABC story. “That compared with 5 to 6 per cent of parents with depression after the birth of a full-term baby (born after 37 weeks' gestation).”

Their levels of anxiety are also alarmingly high and well above the average.

"In those initial weeks [after birth], we found quite high rates of clinically significant symptoms of depression and anxiety in mums and dads," said lead author Dr. Carmen Pace.

She and her team of researchers studied over 200 mothers and fathers whose babies were born prior to 30 weeks.

It was also the first longitudinal study involving Australian parents of preterm babies.

"We never actually set out to compare mums and dads in this study but it's come out that they were pretty similar rates right throughout," she said.

Both mothers and fathers experienced overwhelming grief and uncertainty following such a birth.

Melbourne parents Radford and Kirsten White can attest to that, saying that their harrowing experience at the intensive care with their twins Rupert and Maisie was difficult to relive.

Kristen even said that it had a profound impact in their family.

“You can’t sort of sit in that place for nearly four months and see what we saw and not come out affected by it,” she said.

Radford said that she and her wife, for four months that their pre-term twins were in the hospital, were committed to looking after their children.

“We thought ‘what’s the greatest thing we can give the kids?’ and the greatest thing we can give them is for them to just carry on like this is just a normal birth.

“We’d get there at 8:00 in the morning, Kirsten would stay until 3:00 in the afternoon, I’d then go back to work and then return from work about 5.30pm and I’d be there until 10.30pm or 11:00 at night.”

For two years their twins required medical attention from specialist, undeniably a stressful time for both parents. But both managed to get out of their hardships intact.

In fact, the Whites had just recently celebrated their twins’ birthday, both of which are now healthy.

Now all they wish is for parents like them to receive support and education about the depression with which pre-term births come.

Photo credit: ABC News


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