Parental Postnatal Depressive Symptoms in NICU are strongly related to Demographic factors and Maternal as well as Neonatal Perinatal Clinical Outcome

Author(s): Ioanna Ioannou, Artemis Giotsa


Giving birth to a preterm infant is undoubtedly a stressful event on parents’ psychological wellbeing.


To determine the depression levels and define the related demographic and clinical factors.

Material and Methods:

A prospective, follow up–cohort study, in “Helena Venizelou” Maternity Hospital’s NICU (Athens, Greece), between December 2019 to December 2022, with the sample of sixty couples, whose infants’ birth weight (BW) was <1750g and gestational age (GA) <34weeks. Data were collected using the Edinburg Postnatal Depression Scale in 3rd–4th, in 20th– 25th day of life and at NICU discharge.


Mothers experienced higher levels of depression than fathers did, at all assessments (1st: p<0.001, 2nd: p<0.001, 3rd: p<0.001). Our data concluded that the rate of maternal depression in the 1st & 2nd assessment [Mean (SD):14.9(5.9) and Mean (SD):12.4(6.2), respectively] was significantly higher than the 3rd [Mean (SD):10.3 (5.9)]. Moreover, the rate of fathers’ depression in the 1st assessment [Mean (SD):10.3(5.8)] was higher compared to the 3rd [Mean (SD):6.4(5.2)]. Other factors that contributed to higher levels of depression were maternal health problems & receiving in vitro fertilisation treatment for mothers as well as Apgar score 5’ for fathers. Maternal age, clinical course of pregnancy (primiparous & single pregnancies), neonatal BW & hospitalization duration as well as Apgar and CRIB II score were also found to correlate with levels of depression.


NICU may be a stressful experience. Screening parents for postpartum depression during NICU stay is likely to result in improved identification of the parents at risk at this critical period, in order to plan early interventions.

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