Babies born at very low birth weights struggle in their early years as well as their mothers suffer, according to a new study by University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers.
The study of families enrolled in the Newborn Lung Project found that by the time the children reached age 5, their mothers suffered much worse than mothers of normal birth-weight children.
“We found that caring for a baby born very low birth weight can have negative downstream effects for maternal health.” -Dr. Whitney Witt Assistant Professor UW School of Medicine and Public Health
“This suggests that mothers of these babies, and their families, should get help and support both early on and as the child grows up, in order to keep the whole family healthy,“Witt expressed.
Witt led a research team that interviewed 297 mothers of very low birth-weight babies – defined as babies born weighing less than 1,500 grams or about 3.3 pounds – and 290 mothers of normal birth-weight babies. The Newborn Lung Study includes all very low birth-weight infants born in Wisconsin in 2003 and 2004 and admitted to Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICU).
The findings are the following:
“This study suggests that having a child born very low birth-weight can have a lasting effect on mothers, and long-term or chronic stress may play a very important role,” says Witt.
Other members of the team include Kristin Litzelman, Lauren E. Wisk and Nataliya Levin, graduate students, and Dr. Mari Palta, professor, all of the UW Department of Population Health Sciences; and Hilary Spear and Beth McManus of the University of Colorado.