Maternal grief after sudden infant death syndrome

J Dev Behav Pediatr. 1993 Jun;14(3):156-62.


Six months after the death of their infants of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), the subjective impression of mothers anonymously rating their initial and present grief was that there had been a reduction in all symptoms (p < .001). However, an increase in the relative ranking of some cognitive symptoms over somatic ones, the association of certain lifestyles and situational variables with higher levels of grief, and the implication for future symptoms of family decisions made during bereavement underscore the importance of continuing active support for these families. In relative ranking, guilt rose from 10th to 5th most prominent symptom, particularly among the 34% of mothers whose infants manifested clinical symptoms (p < .05). Single mothers had higher grief scores both initially (p < .05) and at 6 months (p < .002), were almost three times more likely to become pregnant within 6 months of the death but only one-third as likely to attend a support group, and were also more likely to move after the death (44% vs 25%). Mothers whose infants had been discovered by another caregiver reached out more to a crisis intervention service of a support program available to SIDS families (p < .05). Mothers without surviving children had grief levels comparable with those with children but were less likely to rate their pediatrician's support as satisfactory, increasing the probability that they would change physicians with subsequent children, thereby losing continuity of care and support.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bereavement
  • Female
  • Grief*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Life Change Events
  • Male
  • Maternal Behavior
  • Mothers / psychology*
  • Sudden Infant Death*