Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Psychoeducation Helps in Maternal Depression, Trauma Associated With Preterm Birth

A short, highly manualized intervention for mothers of preterm infants significantly reduced symptoms of trauma and depression associated with preterm birth, according to a report published online September 2 in Pediatrics. Researchers at Stanford University and New York University medical schools randomized 105 mothers of preterm infants (25–34 weeks’ gestational age with a birth weight of less than 600 g) to receive a six-session intervention developed to target parental trauma or to a comparison group.

Mothers in the intervention group received a combination of trauma-focused treatments, including psychoeducation, cognitive restructuring, progressive muscle relaxation, and development of a “trauma narrative.” The intervention also incorporated material targeting “infant redefinition”—the process of changing a mother’s negative perceptions of her infant and the parenting experience. Mothers in the intervention group reported greater reduction in both trauma symptoms and depression than mothers in the comparison group. And mothers with higher ratings of baseline stress in the neonatal intensive care unit benefited more from the intervention than did mothers who had lower ratings.

“The intervention is feasible, can be delivered with fidelity, and has high ratings of maternal satisfaction,” the researchers said. “Given that improvements in mothers’ distress may lead to improved infant outcomes, this intervention has the potential for a high public-health impact.”

To read more about this topic, see the Psychiatric News articles "Screening of Postpartum Women Shows High Rates of Depression" and "Data Clarify Link Between Antidepressant Use, Preterm Birth." Also see the report "Effects on Children of Treating Their Mothers' Depression: Results of a 12-Month Follow-Up" in Psychiatric Services.

(Image: Ramona Heim/


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