Infant and child deaths: Parent concerns about subsequent pregnancies

J Am Assoc Nurse Pract. 2015 Dec;27(12):690-7. doi: 10.1002/2327-6924.12243. Epub 2015 Mar 11.


Purpose: Examine parents' concerns about subsequent pregnancies after experiencing an infant or child death (newborn to 18 years).

Data sources: Thirty-nine semistructured parent (white, black, Hispanic) interviews 7 and 13 months post infant/child death conducted in English and/or Spanish, audio-recorded, transcribed, and content analyzed. Mothers' mean age was 31.8 years, fathers' was 39 years; 11 parents were white, 16 black, and 12 Hispanic.

Conclusions: Themes common at 7 and 13 months: wanting more children; fear, anxiety, scared; praying to God/God's will; thinking about/keeping the infant's/child's memory and at 7 months importance of becoming pregnant for family members; and at 13 months happy about a new baby. Parents who lost a child in neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) commented more than those who lost a child in pediatric intensive care unit (PICU). Black and Hispanic parents commented more on praying to God and subsequent pregnancies being God's will than white parents.

Implications for practice: Loss of an infant/child is a significant stressor on parents with documented negative physical and mental health outcomes. Assessing parents' subsequent pregnancy plans, recognizing the legitimacy of their fears about another pregnancy, discussing a plan should they encounter problems, and carefully monitoring the health of all parents who lost an infant/child is an essential practitioner role.

Keywords: Children; death and dying; family; infants; neonatal intensive care; parenting; pediatric.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude to Death
  • Attitude to Health
  • Child
  • Counseling / methods
  • Fear*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Mothers / psychology
  • Parenting / psychology*
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Pregnancy / psychology*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology*
  • Young Adult