Maternal parenting stress changes over the first year of life in infants with complex cardiac defects and in healthy infants

Nadya Golfenshtein, Alexandra L. Hanlon, Janet A. Deatrick, Barbara Medoff-Cooper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: Parents of infants with CHDs experience increased parenting stress compared to the general population, potentially interfering with parenting practices and bear adverse family outcomes. The changes in stress over the critical period of infancy have yet to be studied. The current study aimed to compare parenting stress changes over time between parents of infants with CHDs and parents of healthy infants during the first year of infants' life. Methods: Data from a larger prospective cohort study were longitudinally analysed using mixed-effects multivariable regression modelling. Sample included mothers of 129 infants with complex cardiac defects and healthy infants, recruited from the cardiac ICU of a large cardiac centre and outpatient paediatric practices in Northeastern America. Outcome was measured over four visits via the Parenting Stress Index Long Form. Results: Stress in the cardiac group has significantly decreased over time on the Parent Domain (p = 0.025), and stress in the healthy group has significantly increased over time on the Child Domain (p = 0.033). Parenting stress trajectories demonstrated significant differences between groups on the Parent Domain (p = 0.026) and on the Total Stress (p = 0.039) subscales. Conclusions: Parenting stress in the paediatric cardiac population changes over time and differs from stress experienced by parents of healthy infants. Findings highlight stressful periods that may be potentially risky for parents of infants with CHDs and introduce additional illness-related and psychosocial/familial aspects to the parenting stress concept.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCardiology in the Young
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press.


  • CHDs
  • Longitudinal design
  • Parenting Stress Index
  • infancy
  • mixed models

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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