Effects of an intervention program on maternal and paternal parenting stress after preterm birth: A randomized trial.Early Hum Dev. 2016 12; 103:17-25.EH
Preterm birth causes parenting stress and increases the risk of developmental disorders in children. Our objective was to assess the impact of an early psychological intervention, Triadic parent-infant Relationship Therapy (TRT), on parenting stress, parental mental health and preterm infant development in the motor, language, social, behavioral and emotional domains at a corrected age of 18months.
Sixty-five families of preterm infants were randomly assigned to the intervention group (n=33) or the control group (n=32). Families of full-term children (n=24) were also recruited. Intervention focused on the triadic relationship and aimed to improve parenting stress by supporting parental mental health to promote infant development. The main outcome was assessed with the Parenting Stress Index Short Form (PSI-SF).
Highly significant differences at 18months were observed for the mother and father in overall PSI-SF scores, with 16.6, and 11.7 points, respectively, in favor of the intervention group. Children in the intervention group demonstrated higher full-scale developmental quotients than the preterm controls (an 8.7-point difference) along with lower scores on behavioral tests (a 5.8-point difference at 18months). At 18months, results for children in the intervention group showed no significant differences compared to the full-term group or were even better.
Our study provides sound evidence for the efficiency of the TRT program to reduce parenting stress and improve parental mental health for both parents, thus fostering the infant's overall development.