Quality of Life Research

, Volume 22, Issue 8, pp 2063–2072 | Cite as

Well-being in mothers of children with congenital heart defects: a 3-year follow-up

  • Maria T. Grønning Dale
  • Øivind Solberg
  • Henrik Holmstrøm
  • Markus A. Landolt
  • Leif T. Eskedal
  • Margarete E. Vollrath



This prospective case–cohort study compared subjective well-being (SWB) among mothers whose children had various degrees of congenital heart defects (CHD) with mothers of children without CHD (controls).


Nationwide CHD registry data were linked to data collected from the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study at gestational week 30, 6 months, and 36 months postpartum. A total of 175 mothers of children with mild, moderate, and severe CHD were identified in a cohort of 44,144 mothers. The SWB index was operationalized by means of three subscales: a cognitive aspect, positive affect, and negative affect.


Mothers of children with severe CHD reported significantly lower SWB than the controls at 6 months postpartum (p = .003), with further decrease in SWB at 36 months postpartum (p = .001). SWB levels in the mild and moderate CHD group did not deviate significantly from controls.


The findings suggest a pattern in which all stressors concerning the severely ill child lead to significant deterioration of maternal well-being. Having a child with mild or moderate CHD, which is a less severe and shorter-term stressor, did not reduce mothers’ well-being.


Congenital heart defects Longitudinal research Distress Motherhood Coping 



Congenital heart defect


Subjective well-being



The authors thank Bo Engdahl for his expert contribution to the statistical discussion prior to the final analysis of the data and Sarah E. Hampson for critically reviewing the paper for important intellectual content (NCR fund no. 194190). We are grateful to all the participating families who take part in this ongoing cohort study. A special thanks to the parents we met in the Oslo University Hospital who voluntarily took time to give us insight into their everyday lives and challenges for their children with CHD. The Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study is supported by the Norwegian Ministry of Health, NIH/NIEHS (grant no. N0-ES-75558), NIH/NINDS (grant no.1 UO1 NS 047537-01), and the Norwegian Research Council/FUGE (grant no. 186031/V50).

Conflict of interest

We declare that we have no conflicts of interest.

Ethical standards

The study has been approved by the Norwegian Regional Committee of Medical Ethics and by the Norwegian Data Inspectorate and is in agreement with the established international research codes of ethics.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maria T. Grønning Dale
    • 1
    • 2
  • Øivind Solberg
    • 1
    • 2
  • Henrik Holmstrøm
    • 3
  • Markus A. Landolt
    • 4
  • Leif T. Eskedal
    • 5
  • Margarete E. Vollrath
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Psychosomatics and Health BehaviorNorwegian Institute of Public HealthOsloNorway
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of OsloOsloNorway
  3. 3.Department of PediatricsOslo University HospitalOsloNorway
  4. 4.Department of Psychosomatics and Psychiatry, Children’ Research CenterUniversity Children’s HospitalZurichSwitzerland
  5. 5.Department of PediatricsSørlandet Hospital HFKristiansandNorway

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