Parents of babies who spend long periods in special care baby units are faced with the problem of developing a caring relationship with their baby. The journeys to and from the hospital pose additional financial and social stress on parents who are already under considerable emotional strain. A survey into the financial costs incurred by parents visiting their babies in six hospitals during a period of 2 months was conducted using questionnaires. Complete data were available for analysis from four hospitals on 126 babies (98 inborn and 28 outborn). For babies inborn in a maternity hospital, the mean cost of visiting for parents with a car was 41 pounds (range 1-336) and for those who travelled by public transport the mean cost was 30 pounds (range 2-151). For babies born outside the hospital and transferred to a special care baby unit, the mean cost of visiting for parents with a car was 123 pounds (range 11-518), and for those who travelled by public transport the mean cost was 46 pounds (range 16-80). There was almost no financial assistance available to help these families, one-third of whom had at least one serious social problem.
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