Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

BACKGROUND: Posttraumatic stress (PTS) and anxiety are common mental health problems among parents of babies admitted to a neonatal unit (NNU). This review aimed to identify sociodemographic, pregnancy and birth, and psychological factors associated with PTS and anxiety in this population. METHOD: Studies published up to December 2022 were retrieved by searching Medline, Embase, PsychoINFO, Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health electronic databases. The modified Newcastle-Ottawa Scale for cohort and cross-sectional studies was used to assess the methodological quality of included studies. This review was pre-registered in PROSPERO (CRD42021270526). RESULTS: Forty-nine studies involving 8,447 parents were included; 18 studies examined factors for PTS, 24 for anxiety and 7 for both. Only one study of anxiety factors was deemed to be of good quality. Studies generally included a small sample size and were methodologically heterogeneous. Pooling of data was not feasible. Previous history of mental health problems (four studies) and parental perception of more severe infant illness (five studies) were associated with increased risk of PTS, and had the strongest evidence. Shorter gestational age (≤ 33 weeks) was associated with an increased risk of anxiety (three studies) and very low birth weight (

Original publication




Journal article


BMC Pregnancy Childbirth

Publication Date





Anxiety, Factors, Neonatal units, Posttraumatic stress disorder, Posttraumatic stress symptoms, Preterm birth, Systematic review, Humans, Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic, Parents, Infant, Newborn, Anxiety, Female, Risk Factors, Intensive Care Units, Neonatal, Pregnancy