Maternal Immigrant Status and Readiness to Transition to Home From the NICU

Pediatrics. 2019 May;143(5):e20182657. doi: 10.1542/peds.2018-2657.


Background and objectives: Evaluate effects of immigrant status on perceptions of discharge readiness in mothers of preterm infants <37 weeks' gestation and identify the impact of primary language and years in the United States.

Methods: Immigrant (n = 176) and native (n = 556) mothers of preterm infants cared for in the NICU for >5 days between 2012 and 2015 completed the Fragile Infant Parental Readiness Evaluation (FIPRE), a NICU-discharge readiness questionnaire. Group comparisons were made on the basis of immigrant status. Regression models examined effects of immigrant status, primary language, and years in the United States on discharge readiness.

Results: Immigrant mothers were more likely to be older, gravida >1, multiracial or people of color, and non-English speaking; have less than a high school education; and receive Medicaid but less likely to have child protective services involvement, substance abuse, and mental health disorder (MHD). Whereas rates of non-English primary language, low education, and Medicaid decreased, rates of MHDs increased with years in the United States. At NICU discharge, immigrant mothers had poorer perceptions of infant well-being, maternal well-being, maternal comfort, and time impact. In adjusted analyses, immigrant status, non-English primary language, and MHD predicted unfavorable scores. Among immigrant mothers, increased years in the United States and MHD predicted unfavorable scores.

Conclusions: Although findings suggest acculturation with increased years in the United States, immigrant mothers perceived less discharge readiness in multiple domains, highlighting the need for culturally competent care and discharge services specifically tailored to help this vulnerable population.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cohort Studies
  • Emigrants and Immigrants / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature*
  • Intensive Care Units, Neonatal / trends*
  • Male
  • Mothers / psychology*
  • Patient Discharge / trends*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Transitional Care / trends*
  • United States / ethnology