Aim: The aim of the study was to conduct a pilot study to compare fathers of very low birth weight (VLBW; <1,500 g) infants and term infants at 2- 4 years postpartum for self-reported posttraumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) related to the previous birth of their baby and for depression and anxiety. The prevalence of paternal PTSS was compared with that of a historical cohort of mothers of VLBW infants followed up at a similar postnatal age. Method: Twenty-six fathers of VLBW infants and 22 fathers of term infants completed 4 validated psychological questionnaires at 2- 4 years postpartum. Results: PTSS levels were significantly higher in fathers of VLBW infants than in fathers of term infants, and PTSS levels did not differ significantly between fathers and the mothers of VLBW infants of a historical cohort. There was a significant association between perceived levels of social support and PTSS severity in fathers of VLBW infants but not for their anxiety or depression severity. Conclusion: PTSS directly related to the birth of their VLBW infants are present in fathers at 2- 4 years postpartum and occur at similar levels to those found in mothers of VLBW infants. Routine screening for PTSS in fathers of VLBW infants is important, and targeted psychological support should be offered. Larger-scale studies in the area are needed to elucidate further information about PTSS in fathers postpartum.
- Intensive care, postnatal, premature, preterm, trauma