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Open Access Research article

Parent and family impact of raising a child with perinatal stroke

Taryn B Bemister12, Brian L Brooks345, Richard H Dyck1 and Adam Kirton245*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Psychology, University of Calgary, 2500 University Drive NW, Calgary, AB T2N 1N4, Canada

2 Calgary Pediatric Stroke Program, Room C1-320, Alberta Children’s Hospital, 2888 Shaganappi Trail NW, Calgary, AB T3B 6A8, Canada

3 Neurosciences, Brain Injury and Rehabilitation Program, Alberta Children’s Hospital, 2888 Shaganappi Trail NW, Calgary, AB T3B 6A8, Canada

4 Departments of Paediatrics and Clinical Neurosciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Calgary, 3330 Hospital Drive NW, Calgary, AB T2N 4N1, Canada

5 Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute, Heritage Medical Research Building, Room 293, 3330 Hospital Drive NW, Calgary, AB T2N 4N1, Canada

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BMC Pediatrics 2014, 14:182  doi:10.1186/1471-2431-14-182

Published: 14 July 2014

Abstract

Background

Perinatal stroke is a leading cause of early brain injury, cerebral palsy, and lifelong neurological morbidity. No study to date has examined the impact of raising a child with perinatal stroke on parents and families. However, a large breadth of research suggests that parents, especially mothers, may be at increased risk for psychological concerns. The primary aim of this study was to examine the impact of raising a child with perinatal stroke on mothers’ wellbeing. A secondary aim was to examine how caring for a child with perinatal stroke differentially affects mothers and fathers.

Methods

In Study I, a matched case-control design was used to compare the wellbeing of mothers of children with perinatal stroke and mothers of children with typical development. In Study II, a matched case-control design was used to compare mother-father dyads. Participants completed validated measures of anxiety and depression, stress, quality of life and family functioning, marital satisfaction, and marital distress. Parents of children with perinatal stroke also completed a recently validated measure of the psychosocial impact of perinatal stroke including guilt and blame outcomes. Disease severity was categorized by parents, validated by the Pediatric Stroke Outcome Measure (PSOM), and compared across the above outcomes in Study I.

Results

A total of 112 mothers participated in Study I (n = 56 per group; mean child age = 7.42 years), and 56 parents participated in Study II (n = 28 per group; mean child age = 8.25 years). In Study I, parent assessment of disease severity was correlated with PSOM scores (γ = 0.75, p < .001) and associated with parent outcomes. Mothers of children with mild conditions were indistinguishable from controls on the outcome measures. However, mothers of children with moderate/severe conditions had poorer outcomes on measures of depression, marital satisfaction, quality of life, and family functioning. In Study II, mothers and fathers had similar outcomes except mothers demonstrated a greater burden of guilt and higher levels of anxiety.

Conclusions

Although most mothers of children with perinatal stroke adapt well, mothers of children with moderate/severe conditions appear to be at higher risk for psychological concerns.

Keywords:
Perinatal stroke; Caregivers; Parent impact; Family impact; Pediatric neurological conditions; Pediatric disabilities; Gender differences