Maturational changes associated with neonatal stress in preterm infants hospitalised in the NICU

Alicia Alvarez-Garcia, Albert Fornieles-Deu, Carme Costas-Moragas, Francesc Botet-Mussons

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


© 2014 Society for Reproductive and Infant Psychology. Objective: This study investigates maturational changes associated with neonatal stress during the hospitalisation of preterm infants in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, assessing their behaviour with the Newborn Individualised Developmental Care and Assessment Program (NIDCAP) Observation Sheet. Background: Admission to a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) may have harmful effects on preterm infants. It is anticipated that their behaviour will reflect stress and discomfort levels. The NIDCAP Observation Sheet seems to be an appropriate instrument with which to assess preterm infants hospitalised in NICU. Methods: Thirty-one preterm infants, ≤ 32 weeks gestational age, were assessed on admission and at 34 weeks gestational age with the NIDCAP Observation Sheet, using 85 NIDCAP variables. Results: Eighteen percent of the variables showed a significant change. The comparison between the two observation times revealed differences in the NIDCAP subsystems in the infants and there were differences between the younger and the older preterm infants. Conclusion: Preterm infants are capable of responding behaviourally to stress and this response varies with the gestational age.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)412-422
JournalJournal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014


  • neonatal stress assessment
  • NICU
  • preterm newborn


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