Mothers Run Risk of Suffering Stress Which May Affect Child Development

Photo: A Mother and a child

Mother and child need some bonding
time;©Hemera

These consequences also are a concern to child psychiatrists and psychologists, as it is currently known that the progress of a premature baby and the appearance or otherwise of problems depend largely on the family environment, above all how the mother interacts with her child in the first months of its life.

The research for this thesis involved the participation of 90 prematurely born babies with very low weight (> 1.500 grams), without medium or severe consequences, and of their mothers. Their results were compared with 96 healthy newborns, together with their mothers. The aim was to evaluate the mental development of the babies after two years and, above all, to contribute to knowledge about the environmental factors surrounding them; especially those involving mother-infant relationships.

In this sense, the degree of stress of the mother appears to be a key factor. Doctor Fernando González defended his PhD thesis at the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU) and concluded that the children, whose mothers showed high levels of stress during the first year of life, have lower rates of psychomotor development, besides having greater risk of suffering sleep disorders at two years. Precisely, the thesis bears out that mothers of premature babies have greater stress, showing symptoms of depression and anxiety.

As regards specific characteristics, it was shown that prematurely born babies have, at two years of age, a cognitive and psychomotor development within normality. Nevertheless, the values of the mental development rate are lower in the group of prematurely born babies than in the healthy group. Moreover, prematurely born babies show psychofunctional disorders and externalised behaviour.

As regards these conclusions, Mr González puts forward the need to evaluate the reactions of the mothers and of parents in general of premature children as soon as possible, as regards stress and insecure bonding. The proposal is to provide specific help to these parents, in order to minimise the effects that these reactions might consequently have on their children an on their development. This means, therefore, facilitating the development of bonding during hospital admission, as well as providing monitoring programmes when they go home.

MEDICA.de; Source: Elhuyar Fundazioa