Parents and the family environment have a pronounced influence on child development. For children at increased risk such as those born very preterm (VPT) or with very low birth weight (VLBW), parent and family functioning can influence the child's level of risk or resilience. This review describes parent and family outcomes after VPT/VLBW birth, specifically parental mental health, parenting stress and the impact of the child on the family. Factors associated with these outcomes are examined, as well as the specific outcomes for fathers. Overall the influence of VPT/VLBW birth on parents and the family appears to be more pronounced in early childhood, with less influence seen by the time of adolescence. Emerging evidence suggests that fathers experience high rates of psychological distress in the first months after VPT birth. Whereas characteristics of the VPT/VLBW child are strongly associated with parent and family outcomes, parent and social factors are also important influences.
Keywords: Family; Outcomes; Parent; Preterm birth; Very low birth weight.
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