Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 23rd 2015 Contents A32
body & soul
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Monday, March 23, 2015
Preemies (premature babies) often have lasting
health issues and their parents often feel stressed,
but a new study suggests parents might stay calmer
if they had support in figuring out ways to deal
with the behavioural challenges of these young-
Parents of seven-year-olds who were born very
preterm---seven or more weeks early---felt much more
stressed than those with full-term children when
the kids were acting out. But parents who used more
constructive problem-solving for outbursts stayed
calmer than their counterparts who used avoidance
"The full-term parents were better at using this
form of coping than preterm parents," said Mark
Linden, the study's first author and a lecturer in
Health Sciences at the School of Nursing and Mid-
wifery, Queen's University, Belfast, UK. "This may
have been one of the things which lead to parents
of full-term children experiencing less stress."
Mothers of children who act out already have
higher stress levels and may play and interact with
their children less than mothers whose kids behave,
the researchers write in Archives of Disease in Child-
hood. Having a preemie with medical complications
may just make those interactions worse.
Linden noted that while survival rates for preemies
have increased in recent years, preterm youngsters
can have more disabilities.
"For parents of children who are born premature
or with other medical complications, the joy of a
new baby is tempered with worry," Linden told Reuters
Health in an email. "The medicalised environment
in which the baby is placed in the days and weeks
following delivery is unfamiliar and at times fright-
ening for parents."
To see what factors might predict whether parents
of preterm babies would feel overly stressed even
years later, the researchers looked at data from a
larger long-term study of children in Vancouver,
They studied two groups, one with 50 boys and
50 girls born very preterm between 2001 and 2004,
and the other with 20 boys and 30 girls born full-
term during the same period.
Researchers used various questionnaires to gauge
parental stress and coping levels, as well as tools to
measure children's behaviour and IQ, when the chil-
dren were seven. The full-term children had higher
IQs at age seven than the preterm children, but pat-
terns of misbehaviour in both groups were similar.
After accounting for child behavioural problems,
IQ, gender and the parents' coping styles, the study
found that parents were more likely to be stressed
if their child acted out, if they avoided dealing with
their child's behavioral problems and if the youngster
was a girl.
Though parents reported more acting out by boys,
mothers tended to avoid behavioural problems in
their daughters more than in their sons.
The authors say they can't know whether the par-
ents' stress is a result of the children's behaviour
problems, or a cause.
"Their finding that there is a little bit more stress
in the group of parents who had preterm infants was
not such a surprise," said Marsha Gerdes, a psychol-
ogist at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, "but
I thought their addition of looking at coping strategies
was a helpful thing."
Dr Martha G Welch, a psychiatrist at Columbia
University Medical Center in New York, said her own
research had also shown that preemies' problems
can "weigh heavily on families."
"This is an important observational study by an
excellent research group demonstrating for the first
time the long-term risks for parents of preterm
infants," Welch told Reuters Health by e-mail.
"These children are themselves at great risk
for problems in emotion regulation, attention,
impulse control, school performance, as well
as (autism spectrum disorder)."
Gerdes said parenting classes through pedi-
atrians' offices could help. Linden said support
groups, telephone help lines or regular visits
to the family general practitioner could also
help parents reduce their stress and find better
ways of coping. (Reuters)
The parents of premature babies need added support to help them cope with the stress
of their child's condition. PHOTO: WIKIPEDIA
How parents of preemies
can cope with stress
YOUR DAILY HEALTH
News and Advice
Links Archive March 22nd 2015 March 24th 2015 Navigation Previous Page Next Page