Journal of Clinical Psychology in Medical Settings

, Volume 17, Issue 3, pp 230–237 | Cite as

Prevalence and Correlates of Posttraumatic Stress and Postpartum Depression in Parents of Infants in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)

  • Debra S. Lefkowitz
  • Chiara Baxt
  • Jacquelyn R. Evans


The purpose of this study was to assess the prevalence and correlates of acute stress disorder (ASD) and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in mothers and fathers, and postpartum depression (PPD) in mothers, of infants in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). 86 mothers and 41 fathers completed measures of ASD and of parent perception of infant medical severity 3–5 days after the infant’s NICU admission (T1), and measures of PTSD and PPD 30 days later (T2). 35% of mothers and 24% of fathers met ASD diagnostic criteria at T1, and 15% of mothers and 8% of fathers met PTSD diagnostic criteria at T2. PTSD symptom severity was correlated with concurrent stressors and family history of anxiety and depression. Rates of ASD/PTSD in parents of hospitalized infants are consistent with rates in other acute illness and injury populations, suggesting relevance of traumatic stress in characterizing parent experience during and after the NICU.


Posttraumatic stress Postpartum depression Neonatal intensive care Infants Psychosocial screening 



We are grateful to Anne Kazak, PhD, ABPP for her thoughtful comments on this manuscript and to Hannah Roggenkamp, BS, for her assistance with participant recruitment. This research was supported by a grant from the Ethel Brown Foerderer Fund for Excellence at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Debra S. Lefkowitz
    • 1
  • Chiara Baxt
    • 1
  • Jacquelyn R. Evans
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Children’s Hospital of PhiladelphiaPhiladelphiaUSA
  2. 2.University of Pennsylvania School of MedicinePhiladelphiaUSA

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