Maternal Attitudes About Shared Reading Practices in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)

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ESPR204
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Abstract: :

Title: Maternal Attitudes About Shared Reading Practices in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)


Background: Infants born preterm are at increased risk of language and other neurodevelopmental delays, but structured guidance about shared reading is not commonly given to families in the NICU. A shared reading program could potentially improve neurodevelopmental outcomes in preterm infants while also decreasing maternal stress, a known predictor of adverse neurodevelopmental outcomes.


Objective: To survey mothers about their current attitudes on shared reading in a 46-bed, Level IV NICU in New York City and identify areas of focus for future improvements of a shared reading program.


Methods: All mothers of infants <33 weeks gestational age, birthweight <1500g, and/or with other risk factors for neurodevelopmental delay were eligible for inclusion (n=21). Mothers were given a brief survey at discharge with items on demographics, education, and current reading practices. Results were analyzed using SPSS.  Pearson Chi-Square tests were used to identify which mothers were more likely to read to their babies.


Results: 24% of mothers reported reading to their babies during their NICU stay. Average number of days read at bedside per week among all mothers was 0.70 ± 1.66 days. Reading frequency was not significantly affected by maternal age, education, race, ethnicity, household income, reading frequency or number of books at home, or screen time. When given possible reasons for not reading at bedside, the most common reasons selected were "I was too focused on my baby's health and medical care", "I was too stressed or overwhelmed", and "I did not feel comfortable reading aloud in this environment".100% of all mothers agreed or strongly agreed that reading to their babies could potentially help with future development. Of the mothers who did read, 100% agreed or strongly agreed that shared reading helped them bond with their baby and 86% agreed or strongly agreed that shared reading helped their anxiety. 90% of all mothers agreed or strongly agreed that they would have read to their baby at bedside if given books during their stay. 90% of all mothers reported that they planned to read to their baby at home after discharge.


Conclusion: While the sample size was limited in our study, it was clear that shared reading is infrequent in the NICU and likely relates to lack of guidance and maternal stress. Mothers who read at bedside reported a positive impact on bonding and their own anxiety. Our study suggests that if education on shared reading is provided, especially on the likely positive impact on neurodevelopment, mothers may be open to reading to their babies. This indicates a clear need for formal educational programming in the NICU. Further research is needed to assess the impact of a NICU shared reading program on critical outcomes such as maternal anxiety and stress and infant neurodevelopment. This study is ongoing. 



Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

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