Parenting and Low Birth Weight Babies

It's been well-researched that many low birth-weight children have functional disabilities, but what is the impact on the mothers caring for these children? Research shows that mothers giving birth and caring for low birthweight babies face higher levels of psychological distress, including depression and anxiety, particularly for the parents of children age three or younger.  Research indicates that giving birth to low birthweight children impact the mother in a number of important ways:

  • Education: By the time the child reached age 14, the mother will have achieved a lower education, more than one-half year less than a mother giving birth to a full term child.  
  • Financial Stress: Mothers of low birthweight children report higher levels of financial strain and strain impacting the family;
  • General Stress: Mothers of low birthweight children reported higher levels of stress in raising the children, particularly through age three. With older children, the differences for the parents of term and low birthweight children were similar.
  • Need for Social Support: If the mother reported a high level of social support, from friends, family and others, the impact of the factors was mitigated. 


For more information, visit the Schubert Center for Child Studies, Case Western Reserve University and find the research of Dr. Lynn Singer, Deputy Provost and Vice President, Professor of Pediatrics, Psychology and general Medicine, Case Western Reserve University.