Objective Giving birth to an infant with very low birth weight (VLBW) is a major life event for a mother. Several studies have shown that mothers of these infants are at greater risk of psychological distress. The aim of this study was to investigate the level of depressive symptoms and to determine the associated factors among mothers who have infants with VLBW.
Methods The sample consisted of 105 subjects: 35 mothers of VLBW infants (< 1500 g), 35 mothers of low birth weight (LBW) infants (1500–2500 g), and 35 mothers of healthy term infants (> 2500 g). The Edinburgh Postpartum Depression Scale (EPDS) was used to detect maternal depressive symptoms. Maternal social support was assessed by the Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support (MSPSS).
Results The mean EPDS score and the number of mothers with high depressive scores (EPDS>12) were significantly higher in mothers of infants with VLBW than in mothers of LBW and term infants. EPDS score was negatively correlated with birth weight, gestational age, and perceived social support and positively correlated with duration of hospital stay in mothers of infants with VLBW. Low birth weight and long hospital stay were found as predictors of postpartum depression in mothers of infants with VLBW.
Conclusion The birth and subsequent hospitalization of an infant with very low birth weight evoke psychological distress in mothers. Pediatricians should be more careful about depressive symptoms of mothers of infants with VLBW and should refer for counseling when it is necessary.