Open Access Open Badges Research article

Mental health in women experiencing preterm birth

Aud R Misund13*, Per Nerdrum1 and Trond H Diseth23

Author Affiliations

1 Faculty of Health Sciences, University College of Oslo and Akershus, PO Box. 4 St. Olavs plass, N-0130 Oslo, Norway

2 Department of Clinical Neurosciences for Children, Women and Children’s Division, Oslo University Hospital, Rikshospitalet, PO Box 4950 Nydalen, NO-0424 Oslo, Norway

3 Department of Medicine, Institute of Clinical Medicine, University of Oslo, PO Box 1171 Blindern, 0318 Oslo, Norway

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BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth 2014, 14:263  doi:10.1186/1471-2393-14-263

Published: 9 August 2014



The aim of the study was to explore the degree of psychological distress, anxiety, and trauma related stress reactions in mothers who experience preterm birth. Secondarily, we wanted to identify possible predictors of maternal mental health problems.


Twenty-nine mothers of 35 premature children born before 33rd week of pregnancy were assessed within two weeks after given birth. The standardized psychometric methods; Impact of Event Scale (IES), General Health Questionnaire (GHQ) and State Anxiety Inventory (STAI) assessed mental health problems. The predictors for maternal distress, anxiety, and trauma related stress reactions were pregnancy variables, preterm delivery, Gestation Age, maternal trait anxiety and parity. In addition, maternal prevalence of mental health problems was assessed by clinical diagnoses.


Our study revealed a high prevalence (52%) of posttraumatic stress responses in the mothers.


Our results suggest an early examination of mothers’ psychological reactions to preterm birth at the maternity ward. An early intervention should be considered while the child still is in the neonatal intensive care unit.

Anxiety; Depression; Preterm birth; Psychological distress; PTSR