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The impact of preterm birth <37 weeks on parents and families: a cross-sectional study in the 2 years after discharge from the neonatal intensive care unit

Little is known about the quality of life of parents and families of preterm infants after discharge from the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Our aims were (1) to describe the impact of preterm birth on parents and families and (2) and to identify potentially modifiable determinants of parent and family impact. We surveyed 196 parents of preterm infants <24 months corrected age in 3 specialty clinics (82% response rate). Primary outcomes were: (1) the Impact on Family Scale total score; and (2) the Infant Toddler Quality of Life parent emotion and (3) time limitations scores. Potentially modifiable factors were use of community-based services, financial burdens, and health-related social problems. We estimated associations of potentially modifiable factors with outcomes, adjusting for socio-demographic and infant characteristics using linear regression. Median (inter-quartile range) infant gestational age was 28 (26-31) weeks. Higher Impact on Family scores (indicating worse effects on family functioning) were associated with taking ≥3 unpaid hours/week off from work, increased debt, financial worry, unsafe home environment and social isolation. Lower parent emotion scores (indicating greater impact on the parent) were also associated with social isolation and unpaid time off from work. Lower parent time limitations scores were associated with social isolation, unpaid time off from work, financial worry, and an unsafe home environment. In contrast, higher parent time limitations scores (indicating less impact) were associated with enrollment in early intervention and Medicaid. Interventions to reduce social isolation, lessen financial burden, improve home safety, and increase enrollment in early intervention and Medicaid all have the potential to lessen the impact of preterm birth on parents and families.

Authors: Lakshmanan A; Agni M; Lieu T; Fleegler E; Kipke M; Friedlich PS; McCormick MC; Belfort MB

Health Qual Life Outcomes. 2017 Feb 16;15(1):38. Epub 2017-02-16.

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