Post partum emotional distress in mothers of preterm infants: a controlled study

  • D.I. Ukpong
  • F.O. Fatoye
  • S.B. Oseni
  • A.O. Adewuya


Objectives: To investigate whether mothers of preterm infants experience more psychological distress than mothers of normal full term infants in the immediate postpartum period.
Design: Cross sectional prospective study of postpartal women using the Beck Depression Inventory(BDI) and the GHQ-30.
Setting: Neonatal intensive care units and the obstetric units of Wesley Guild Hospital, Ilesa or Multipurpose Health Centre, Ilesa(These are component Units of Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospitals Complex, Osun State Nigeria).
Results: Of the 60 postnatal women recruited into the study, 33 mothers of preterm neonates formed the index group and 27 mothers of full term normal infants constituted the control group. More mothers of preterm neonates(27.3%) had GHQ-30 scores which categorised them as having significant emotional distress than mothers of full term normal infants(3.7%). Similarly more mothers of preterm neonates(15.1%) were more depressed than mothers of full term normal infants(3.7%). These differences were found to be statistically significant when the mean scores of the two groups on the instruments were compared.
Conclusion: These problems are not usually detected nor appropriately referred by the paediatrician/obstetrician to the psychiatrist. This has a number of implications for preventive psychiatry. A multidisciplinary approach is therefore essential in the detection and management of these problems.
(East African Medical Journal: 2003 80(6): 289-292)