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Long term outcomes in children born a few weeks early

A systematic review reporting long term cognitive problems and school outcomes in children born just a few weeks early has been published in Child: Care Health and Development. The review, led by a team including NPEU researchers Maria Quigley and Reem Malouf, included fourteen studies of children who were born late preterm (34-36 weeks' gestation) and eight studies of children born early term (37-37 weeks' gestation), and identified multiple, small, adverse differences between children born late preterm or early term compared with those born at term.  Read the abstract of the paper.

Risk of psychological distress in parents of preterm children

A paper exploring the risk of psychological stress in parents of babies born preterm has been published in BMJ Open. The study, by Claire Carson, Maggie Redshaw, Ron Gray and Maria Quigley, analysed data on 12,100 families recruited into the Millennium Cohort Study, including 7% who had experienced a preterm birth.  Overall, 12% of mothers and 9% of fathers showed signs of psychological distress at 9 months postpartum.   These prevalences were increased in parents of very preterm infants and mothers of infants born at early term (gestation 37-38 weeks).  Full details can be found on the BMJ website.

Resilience in children of depressed mothers

A paper exploring the mechanisms of resilience in children exposed postnatally to depressive symptoms has been published in PlosOne. The study, co-authored by a team of researchers including NPEU researchers Emily Savage-McGlynn, Maggie Redshaw, and Ron Gray, used data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), specifically focusing on the mother’s views of parenting and experience of interacting with her child during the first 2 postnatal years and later behaviour at 8 years of age.

Symptoms of maternal postnatal depression have previously been associated with an increased risk of adverse effects on child development, including behavioural problems, cognitive difficulties, and attachment issues. This study found that resilience (or positive adaptation to adversity) was associated with two factors: 1) the mother’s positive feelings about parenting, and 2) the child’s nonverbal communication at 15 months. The identification of these factors provides insight about opportunities for early intervention with women identified with postnatal depression that can potentially support mother-child interaction, fostering child development and later child resilience. Read the paper in Plos One.

The impact of contact with the baby after stillbirth: a systematic review of the evidence

Stillbirth affects around 1 in 200 pregnancies in high-income countries and is a devastating and traumatic event for women and their families. Guidance on contact between parents and their stillborn baby has changed over time and has been based on mixed evidence. 

NPEU researchers Julie Hennegan, Jane Henderson and Maggie Redshaw have published a systematic review of the published evidence on the impact of contact with the stillborn baby on parental mental health, well-being and satisfaction. Their review found conflicting and sparse evidence on the impact of holding the stillborn baby on mothers’ mental health and well-being, both in the short and longer term. The studies reviewed consistently found that mothers valued contact with their stillborn baby and were satisfied with their decision to have this contact. 

Read the full review.

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