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High-risk infant, Low birthweight, Postpartum depression, Smoking



  1. Northrup, Thomas F. PhD
  2. Evans, Patricia W. MD
  3. Stotts, Angela L. PhD


Purpose: This study investigated potential associations between maternal depression and specific infant health conditions, smoking, and socioeconomic characteristics among mothers of high-risk infants during medical follow-up visits.


Study Design and Methods: Cross-sectional self-report, and interview data were collected from 114 mothers of high-risk infants previously discharged from a neonatal intensive care unit. Mothers were assessed at a postdischarge clinic visit.


Results: Prevalence rates for a Center for Epidemiological Studies-Depression Scale score >=16) suggestive of a depressive disorder exceeded 20% at all time points for this sample of predominantly low-income, minority-race mothers. A greater number of mothers who had infants with a highly visible illness (e.g., surgical necrotizing enterocolitis) were depressed. Depression was also associated with the presence of a household smoker, younger age, and less education and income.


Clinical Implications: Given the prevalence rates, routine screening for postpartum depression in mothers of high-risk infants is imperative, with particular attention to the infant's health, smoking, and socioeconomic variables.