A new study suggests that a relatively simple intervention may help reduce trauma and depression frequently experienced by mothers of preterm infants. Researchers identified 105 mothers whose preterm babies (25 to 34 weeks' gestational age) were in the NICU and who were at increased risk for anxiety, stress and depression. Sixty-two women received six sessions of trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy, which included education about post-traumatic stress disorder and the common emotions of NICU parents, as well as techniques to counter negative thoughts about their babies. The remaining 43 women received just one routine NICU informational session. Mothers in the intervention group reported a greater reduction in both trauma symptoms and depression. Additionally, the findings, reported in Pediatrics, showed that women whose stress was higher to begin with benefited more from the intervention. Given that improvements in mothers' distress may lead to better infant outcomes, the authors conclude that this cost-effective and relatively easy-to-implement intervention has potential for high public health impact. Read the abstract.

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