Friday, August 28, 2009
NY Times: For Parents on NICU, Trauma May Last, by Laurie Tarkan:
Kim Roscoe’s son, Jaxon, was born three months early, weighing two and a half pounds....About three months after her son’s birth, Ms. Roscoe asked to see a psychiatrist. She was given a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder, or P.T.S.D. — a mental illness more often associated with surviving war, car accidents and assaults, but now being recognized in parents of premature infants in prolonged intensive care.
A new study from Stanford University School of Medicine, published in the journal Psychosomatics, followed 18 such parents, both men and women. After four months, three had diagnoses of P.T.S.D. and seven were considered at high risk for the disorder....
“The NICU was very much like a war zone, with the alarms, the noises, and death and sickness,” Ms. Roscoe said. “You don’t know who’s going to die and who will go home healthy.”
Experts say parents of NICU infants experience multiple traumas, beginning with the early delivery, which is often unexpected....
In one study of rural African-Americans, those who were at greater risk of post-traumatic stress reported more problems in their daily lives, like financial trouble or lack of a partner, said the study’s author, Diane Holditch-Davis, a professor at Duke University School of Nursing. One of the biggest problems for these parents is coping after they finally leave the NICU.