Effects of paediatric intensive care due to congenital heart defects on maternal mental health

J B Brandt, J Golej, S Irschik, A Steiner, P Voitl, I Steiner, A Höflich

Research output: Journal article (peer-reviewed)Journal article


Aim: Successful mother–child-bonding is a fundamental step for a healthy development of the child. Different factors like postpartum depression can hinder the bonding process. This study aimed to investigate how intensive care treatment due to congenital heart diseases of the infant alters bonding and how mothers cope with the situation. Methods: Validated questionnaires were used to analyse postpartum depression, mother–child bonding, stress factors and coping strategies for mothers at a paediatric intensive care unit (PICU; n = 38) and a group of mothers without known psychiatric disorders attending a babywell visit with their child (n = 91). Descriptive statistics and interaction models were calculated. Results: The PICU group showed on average higher total scores on the postpartum bonding questionnaire indicating mother–child bonding impairment and a higher proportion of mothers with depression was observed (76% vs 11%). The model showed a significant interaction between effective coping strategies and mother infant bonding (p = 0.04). Ineffective coping had no effect on bonding or depression in the PICU group. Conclusion: Mothers of children treated at an ICU due a congenital heart disease are at increased risk for the development of depression and difficulties in different aspects of postpartum bonding. Our results show that coping mechanisms might significantly influence postpartum bonding. Implementation of tailored support is needed to optimise maternal outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1725-1733
Number of pages9
JournalActa Paediatrica, International Journal of Paediatrics
Issue number8
Early online date11 May 2023
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2023


  • PICU
  • congenital heart disease
  • depression
  • mental health
  • mother-child interaction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology and Child Health


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