Abstract

OBJECTIVE. Physical and psychological health indicators of mothers who gave birth to medically complex infants were examined to explore potential risk factors for the development of chronic conditions and to develop a scholarly base that supports the inclusion of maternal health in the scope of early intervention practice.

METHOD. Ten mothers completed the Perinatal Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Questionnaire and the State Trait Anxiety Form Y–1. Nine women completed 24-h Holter recording. Frequency of symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and anxiety were determined. High frequency heart rate variability was examined for indicators of autonomic dysregulation.

RESULTS. Nine of 10 women reported symptoms associated with PTSD, and 2 of these women reported more severe symptoms. Two women demonstrated indicators of autonomic dysregulation.

CONCLUSION. Further research examining psychological and physical characteristics in mothers of infants at high risk is important to determine whether these women are at greater risk for chronic health conditions.

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