The Turkish Journal of Pediatrics 2014 , Vol 56 , Num 2
Both Parents of Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Patients Are at Risk of Depression
Division of Neonatology, Department of Pediatrics, Ege University Faculty of Medicine, İzmir, Turkey. E-mail: Postpartum depression is a serious disorder that can be seen not only in mothers but also in fathers; therefore, it negatively affects the whole family. Hospitalization in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) is a stress factor for the parents and contributes to depression. We aimed to detect the frequency of postpartum depression and the contributing risk factors in parents of NICU patients. The Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale was used for mothers and the Beck Depression Inventory was performed for fathers in the 2nd and 6th weeks after delivery. At the 2nd week, maternal depression frequency was found as 38.3%, with a mean score [ms] of 10.97±6.93. At the 6th week, maternal depression frequency was 33.3% (ms: 9.57±5.78). Paternal depression was 11.7% (ms= 7.13±7.35) at the 2nd week and 10.0% (ms: 6.50±5.79) at the 6th week. The frequency of maternal depression remained stable, but mean maternal depression scores were decreased at the 6th week compared to the 2nd week (p=0.023). However, paternal depression scores were similar in both periods (p=0.428). The infants’ disease severity at admission to the NICU, as shown by SNAPPE-II risk scores, was positively correlated with Edinburgh depression scores of the mothers at the postnatal 2nd week, but not at the 6th week.

In conclusion, NICU stay of high-risk infants may cause depression in their mothers and fathers, even in the absence of any previous risk factor. Although at a lower rate than in mothers, fathers may also suffer from depression. Parental depression screening and whole family support during NICU hospitalization are strongly recommended. Keywords : NICU, postpartum depression, paternal depression.

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