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Post-traumatic symptomology in parents of premature infants: a systematic review of the literature

By A Karatzias, Zoë Chouliara, F Maxton, Y Freer and KG Power


The emotional distress resulting from the experience of giving birth to a preterm infant (gestational age <37 weeks) and the subsequent neonatal unit hospitalisation may be a traumatic experience for parents. In the present systematic literature review, studies on parental posttraumatic symptomatology following birth of a premature infant were reviewed. A total of 5 studies were indentified. All studies reviewed found that posttraumatic symptomatology is quite common in parents or primary caregivers of premature infants. However, methodological weaknesses of relevant studies (e.g. use of convenience samples, lack of pre-delivery assessments) make it difficult to draw consistent conclusions regarding prevalence of posttraumatic symptomatology in this population group or whether the experience of a premature birth could be responsible for the development of PTSD. Directions for future research are discussed

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