The Association between NICU Admission and Mental Health Diagnoses among Commercially Insured Postpartum Women in the US, 2010-2018
Beck DC, Tabb KM, Tilea A, Hall SV, Vance A, Patrick SW, Schroeder A, and Zivin K. The Association between NICU Admission and Mental Health Diagnoses among Commercially Insured Postpartum Women in the US, 2010-2018. Children (Basel) 2022; 9(10).
Maternal mental health (MH) conditions represent a leading cause of preventable maternal death in the US. Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) hospitalization influences MH symptoms among postpartum women, but a paucity of research uses national samples to explore this relationship. Using national administrative data, we examined the rates of MH diagnoses of anxiety and/or depression among those with and without an infant admitted to a NICU between 2010 and 2018. Using generalized estimating equation models, we explored the relationship between NICU admission and MH diagnoses of anxiety and/or depression, secondarily examining the association of NICU length of stay and race/ethnicity with MH diagnoses of anxiety and/or depression post NICU admission. Women whose infants became hospitalized in the NICU for19% higher odds of maternal MH diagnoses (aOR: 1.19, 95% CI: 1.14%−1.24%) and those whose infants became hospitalized for >2 weeks had 37% higher odds of maternal MH diagnoses (aOR: 1.37 95% CI: 1.128%−1.47%) compared to those whose infants did not have a NICU hospitalization. In adjusted analyses, compared to white women, all other race/ethnicities had significantly lower odds of receiving a maternal MH condition diagnosis [Black (aOR = 0.76, 0.73−0.08), Hispanic (aOR = 0.69, 0.67−0.72), and Asian (aOR: 0.32, 0.30−0.34)], despite higher rates of NICU hospitalization. These findings suggest a need to target the NICU to improve maternal MH screening, services, and support while acknowledging the influence of social determinants, including race and ethnicity, on health outcomes.