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The emotional distress resulting from the experience of giving birth to a preterm infant (gestational age < 37 weeks) and the subsequent neonatal unit hospitalisation may be a traumatic experience for parents. In the present systematic literature review, studies on parental posttraumatic symptomatology following birth of a premature infant were reviewed. A total of 5 studies were identified. All studies reviewed found that posttraumatic symptomatology is quite common in parents or primary caregivers of premature infants. However, methodological weaknesses of relevant studies (e.g. use of convenience samples, lack of pre - delivery assessments) make it difficult to draw consistent conclusions regarding prevalence of posttraumatic symptomatology in this population group or whether the experience of a premature birth could be responsible for the development of PTSD. Directions for future research are discussed.


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JOURNAL OF PRENATAL AND PERINATAL PSYCHOLOGY AND HEALTH publishes research and clinical articles from the cutting edge of the science of prenatal and perinatal psychology and health. The journal, published quarterly since 1986, is dedicated to the in-depth exploration human reproduction and pregnancy and the mental and emotional development of the unborn and newborn child.

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