Objective: To understand how postpartum posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms in mothers of high-risk infants progress and identify what factors predict postpartum PTSD.
Study design: We prospectively obtained self-reported psychological data from neonatal intensive care unit discharged infants' mothers (NICU mothers) at the infants' corrected ages of 1 (T0), 3 (T1) and 12 months (T2) and mothers of healthy infants (controls). Maternal sociodemographic and infant-related factors were also investigated.
Result: PTSD was present in 25 and 9% of NICU mothers and controls, respectively. We identified four PTSD patterns: none, persistent, delayed and recovered. The postpartum PTSD course was associated with trait anxiety. Whether the infant was the first child who predicted PTSD at year 1 (adjusted odds ratio=7.62, 95% confidence interval=1.07 to 54.52).
Conclusion: Mothers of high-risk infants can develop early or late PTSD, and its course can be influenced by factors besides medical status. We therefore recommend regular screenings of postpartum PTSD.