The Relationship Between Neonatal Surgery, Postpartum Depression, and Infant Clinical Course

Laura E. Newton, Clara Hageman, Christina Zhou, Holly Roberts, Robert A. Cusick, Howard Needelman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Postpartum depression (PPD) affects 10–15% of mothers in the general population, and studies show increased incidence for mothers of infants with serious health conditions. This study investigates incidence of PPD in mothers of surgical patients in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and characterizes these patients’ clinical and neurodevelopmental outcomes. Methods: This retrospective cohort study analyzed Nebraska’s Tracking Infant Progress Statewide (TIPS) database and referring hospital medical records from February 2013 to June 2018. Upon NICU discharge, children were referred to the TIPS program, with scheduled follow-up appointments at approximately 6 months corrected age. All patients seen in NICU follow-up clinic with recorded scores for maternal Edinburgh postnatal depression screen (EPDS) were eligible except infants with congenital heart disease as this cohort was previously studied. Patients were stratified into groups based on presence or absence of a general surgical procedure within the first 6 months of life and positive (≥ 10) or negative (< 10) EPDS score. Statistical analyses assessed for significant differences between groups regarding gestational age, birth weight, maternal age, length of NICU stay (LOS), number of days on a ventilator, payment method, ethnicity, developmental testing, and rate of referral for early intervention services. Results: Of 436 patients, 83 were surgical patients (16 with positive EPDS; 19.3% incidence), and 353 were non-surgical patients (44 with positive EPDS; 12.5% incidence). Statistical analysis showed no significant relationship between neonatal surgery and positive EPDS (χ2 = 2.6, p = 0.1). While the surgical cohort had longer LOS and days on ventilator, maternal EPDS did not predict these factors. In the surgical cohort, mothers of children not independent on oral feeding at discharge were more likely to screen positive for depression (7/14, 50% vs. 7/61, 11%; p < 0.05). Conclusion: Mothers of surgical patients are not significantly more likely to screen positive for post-partum depression compared to other NICU mothers. This underscores the importance of routine screening for PPD in mothers of both surgical and non-surgical NICU patients in order to identify parents and children at risk.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1087-1094
Number of pages8
JournalMaternal and Child Health Journal
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2022


  • Maternal depression
  • Mental health
  • Neonatal surgery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


Dive into the research topics of 'The Relationship Between Neonatal Surgery, Postpartum Depression, and Infant Clinical Course'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this