Stress suffered by parents of newborns with craniofacial anomalies like cleft palate, etc; often affect the psychosocial development of their children.
A new study suggests that the stress of parenting an infant with a craniofacial anomaly (CFA) leads to adverse outcomes as children develop. The study appears in the latest issue of The Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Journal.
Parental stress begins with the initial shock of learning of the CFA. Parents then must also deal with other people's negative responses to the disfigurement, which can isolate a new family when they need support. Several studies have indicated that children with CFAs may elicit a style of parenting that is less active and responsive than that of healthy infants.
The new study looked at this stress and how it related to infant and toddler development. Researchers found a reciprocal relationship between parenting stress and child adjustment. Parents who had high levels of stress during their children's infant and toddler stages showed clinical levels of total parental stress and a parent-child dysfunctional interaction. Their toddlers showed higher levels of maladjustment than children with parents showing stress only during child infancy. Thus, elevated levels of parenting stress seen only during infancy may be stable through toddlerhood.
To counter developmental problems, specific guidance tailored to parents of newborns with CFAs could have positive effects on the psychosocial well being of parents and their children. Guidance includes early, accurate information about the child's condition and practical instructions about how to care for the child. Seeking supportive services such as networking with other parents who have children with CFAs may also prove helpful.