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Development of postpartum depression interventions for mothers of premature infants: a call to target low-SES NICU families

Abstract

In the United States, ethnic minority status and low socioeconomic status both confer greater risk of premature birth. These sociodemographic factors also contribute to a greater risk of postpartum depression, as does giving birth prematurely. Considering the known adverse effects of postpartum depression on children’s development, NICU-based mental health services for these high-risk mothers is an important public health intervention. Although counseling and educational interventions in the NICU have been shown to decrease maternal depressive symptoms, these interventions require parental presence on the unit. Mothers of both low socioeconomic and ethnic minority status face systemic barriers that may prevent them from visiting their infants, such as lack of paid leave, transportation, and childcare. We propose directions for future research with the aim of increasing access to services. Directions include brief individual therapy, telehealth, and increasing the psychosocial support skills of other health professionals. Potential barriers to implementation are discussed.

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Hall, E.M., Shahidullah, J.D. & Lassen, S.R. Development of postpartum depression interventions for mothers of premature infants: a call to target low-SES NICU families. J Perinatol 40, 1–9 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41372-019-0473-z

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