Our objective was to investigate whether notification of high-risk status for type 1 diabetes in newborn infants results in an increased maternal-parenting stress level when compared with notification of low-risk status for type 1 diabetes. Maternal parenting stress level was assessed at 5-7 weeks postpartum (baseline) and was reassessed 4-5 months after parents were informed of their newborn infants' genetic screening results (follow-up). Parenting stress level was measured using the total stress score (TSS) of the Parenting Stress Index/Short Form. The outcome variable, change in TSS, was calculated by subtracting the baseline TSS from the follow-up TSS. Demographic variables such as maternal race, maternal age, maternal education level, maternal marital status, child's birth order, and total family income were assessed through a structured phone interview at the time of baseline assessment. The risk factor of interest was the child's human leukocyte antigen (HLA) status for type 1 diabetes, i.e., whether child was at a high or moderate (combined into "high") genetic risk or at a low genetic risk for type 1 diabetes. A sample of 88 mothers (23 with a high-risk child and 65 with a low-risk child) was evaluated. Baseline median TSSs were 65 and 74 for mothers of low-risk infants and mothers of high-risk infants, respectively. Both groups' median TSS decreased between baseline and follow-up. No significant differences were found between change in TSS and maternal age, race, education level, marital status, total family income, or child's birth order. Although the median decrease in TSS was smaller in mothers with a high-risk child when compared with mothers of a low-risk child, this difference was not statistically significant. We did not find an association between newborn's HLA status and change in maternal TSS. The results of this study suggest that notification of high-risk status for type 1 diabetes in newborn infants may not result in an increased level of parenting stress among mothers.
Copyright 1999 Wiley-Liss, Inc.