OBJECTIVE: To chart mothers' trajectories of mental health from pregnancy to 36 months postpartum in order to investigate the association between infants' congenital heart defects (CHD) and compromised maternal mental health.
METHODS: Mothers of infants with mild, moderate, or severe CHD (n = 141) and mothers (n = 36,437) enrolled in the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study were assessed at regular intervals from pregnancy up to 36 months postpartum, including measurements at 6 and 18 months, using an 8-item version of the Hopkins Symptom Checklist-25.
RESULTS: Mean score trajectories of SCL-8 for mothers of infants with severe CHD deviated significantly from cohort controls 6, 18, and 36 months postpartum, indicating heightened symptoms of depression and anxiety.
CONCLUSIONS: Mothers of infants with severe CHD are at risk of compromised mental health from delivery to 36 months postpartum. Strain due to CHD-related interventions is identified as a possible partial mediator of the distress.