Aim We investigated if maternal report of postnatal depression (PND) is associated with parenting stress in children born at less than 32 weeks gestation during their first year.
Methods 158 mother–child pairs were administered questionnaires for maternal demographics, health characteristics, depression using the Edinburgh postnatal depression scale (EPDS) and parenting stressors using the parental stress index–short form (PSI-SF) during their child’s first 12 months of life as part of a randomised controlled trial (Pritchard MA. J Paediatr Child Health 2008). A PND variable based on a score of >12 on the EPDS was used to examine PND at 1.5, 4, 8 and 12 months by PSI-SF scores and other measured correlates using ×2. We performed a logistic regression analysis for PND.
Results PND was 17% (27/158) at 6 weeks, 9% (14/158) at 4 months, 6% (10/158) at 8 and 12 months. 41/158 (26%) women experience PND during the 12 months. Of these women, 17/41 (42%) scored >12 EPDS at multiple time points and 13/41 (32%) experienced their first episode after 4 months. High EPDS scores were associated with gestation and a range of maternal health characteristics and high levels of parental stress at various time points. However, only maternal perception of PND, poor health, social support and male child independently predicted parenting stress in depressed mothers.
Conclusions Mothers of children born at less than 32 weeks gestation with EPDS >12 have an increased risk of parenting stress. Parenting interventions that include social support interventions should be tested for their ability to prevent or alleviate this risk.