Exploring how Age of Mothers Influence Maternal Practices among NICU Infants




Gil, Maty
Shah, Deep
Raines-Milenkov, Amy
Bowman, W. Paul


Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



Purpose: Infants placed in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) after births have a greater risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), infections, and impaired cognitive skills compared to fully term infants. In the NICU, mothers are encouraged to practice safe sleep environments and breastfeed. Mother’s choice in adopting breastfeeding and safer sleep positions may be influenced by their level of brain maturity and infant’s health. At the age of 25, the brain fully matures, which promotes less risky behavior and more timely decisions. We are interested in learning how maternal practices such as breastfeeding and baby's sleep positions are influenced in two age groups of mothers (18-24 and 25-40) among NICU infants. Methods: In-person surveys were administered by research personnel to mothers 18 years or older with infants aged 2 weeks to 3 months during their UNTHSC-Pediatric Outpatient Clinic visits. The surveys asked questions about demographics, perinatal history, breastfeeding and other feeding practices, sleep position, and sleep locations, and exposure to smoking. IBM SPSS Statistics 21 software was used for double-data entry and statistical reporting. Results: Selected results reported here include factors related to breastfeeding and sleep position. Of all mothers (103) surveyed, 21 had infants placed in a NICU after birth. Among all NICU infants, 10 infants had younger mothers (18-24 years) and 11 had middle-aged (25-40) mothers. All of the mothers had breastfed or pumped breast milk for a short period of time, but currently only 60% of younger mothers and 64% of middle-aged mothers were breastfeeding. Among all, 7 out of 10 younger mothers and 9 out of 11 middle-aged mothers placed baby on back position to sleep. Conclusions: Compared to those under age 25, middle-aged mothers with a NICU infant did not show a significant increase in adopting healthy maternal practices such as breastfeeding and safe sleep position. The lower incidence of breastfeeding might related to the challenges that parents with preterm infants face such as milk productions, latching problems, etc. Understanding the reasons why mothers are not choosing to adopt more healthy maternal practices is very important. Clinicians and researchers need to examine the reasons mothers are discontinuing breastfeeding and implement new strategies to promote longer breastfeeding.