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22-04-2019 | Original Paper | Uitgave 7/2019

Journal of Child and Family Studies 7/2019

Psychiatric History in the Family Members of Adults Born at Extremely Low Birth Weight

Journal of Child and Family Studies > Uitgave 7/2019
Taylor M. Mehta, Louis A. Schmidt, Kristie L. Poole, Saroj Saigal, Ryan J. Van Lieshout
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The birth of an extremely low birth weight (ELBW; <1000 g) infant can be preceded or followed by significant levels of stress for the family, and it is plausible that these stressors could be associated with psychiatric problems in family members of ELBW survivors. The purpose of this study was to examine the lifetime psychiatric history in first-degree family members of adult ELBW survivors, and to determine if the risk of psychiatric problems differs in family members of ELBW survivors with and without neurosensory impairments (NSIs), and normal birth weight (NBW) control participants.


Between the ages of 30–35, 85 ELBW survivors and 88 NBW controls completed the Family History Screen, an interview measure of the lifetime presence of depression, mania/hypomania, panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, agoraphobia, social anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, alcohol problems, and drug problems in biological mothers, fathers, and siblings.


No differences were found with respect to lifetime psychiatric history between family members of ELBW survivors and NBW control participants. Moreover, no differences were found between family members of ELBW survivors with NSIs and the family members of NBW controls.


These data suggest that despite the experience of stress before and after the birth of an ELBW infant, there does not appear to be an increased risk for psychopathology in the family in the long-term. It is possible that family members of ELBW survivors are able to manifest healthy adjustment to stressors accompanying the birth and rearing of a premature infant over 30 years.

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