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1.  The All Our Babies pregnancy cohort: design, methods, and participant characteristics 
BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth  2013;13(Suppl 1):S2.
The prospective cohort study design is ideal for examining diseases of public health importance, as its inherent temporal nature renders it advantageous for studying early life influences on health outcomes and research questions of aetiological significance. This paper will describe the development and characteristics of the All Our Babies (AOB) study, a prospective pregnancy cohort in Calgary, Alberta, Canada designed to examine determinants of maternal, infant, and child outcomes and identify barriers and facilitators in health care utilization.
Women were recruited from health care offices, communities, and through Calgary Laboratory Services before 25 weeks gestation from May 2008 to December 2010. Participants completed two questionnaires during pregnancy, a third at 4 months postpartum, and are currently being followed-up with questionnaires at 12, 24, and 36 months. Data was collected on pregnancy history, demographics, lifestyle, health care utilization, physical and mental health, parenting, and child developmental outcomes and milestones. In addition, biological/serological and genetic markers can be extracted from collected maternal and cord blood samples.
A total of 4011 pregnant women were eligible for recruitment into the AOB study. Of this, 3388 women completed at least one survey. The majority of participants were less than 35 years of age, Caucasian, Canadian born, married or in a common-law relationship, well-educated, and reported household incomes above the Calgary median. Women who discontinued after the first survey (n=123) were typically younger, non-Caucasian, foreign-born, had lower education and household income levels, were less likely to be married or in a common-law relationship, and had poor psychosocial health in early pregnancy. In general, AOB participants reflect the pregnant and parenting population at local and provincial levels, and perinatal indicators from the study are comparable to perinatal surveillance data.
The extensive and rich data collected in the AOB cohort provides the opportunity to answer complex questions about the relationships between biology, early experiences, and developmental outcomes. This cohort will contribute to the understanding of the biologic mechanisms and social/environmental pathways underlying associations between early and later life outcomes, gene-environment interactions, and developmental trajectories among children.
PMCID: PMC3561154  PMID: 23445747
2.  Key components of early intervention programs for preterm infants and their parents: a systematic review and meta-analysis 
BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth  2013;13(Suppl 1):S10.
Preterm infants are at greater risk for neurodevelopmental disabilities than full term infants. Interventions supporting parents to improve the quality of the infant’s environment should improve developmental outcomes for preterm infants. Many interventions that involve parents do not measure parental change, nor is it clear which intervention components are associated with improved parental outcomes. The aim of this review was to categorize the key components of early intervention programs and determine the direct effects of components on parents, as well as their preterm infants.
MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, ERIC, and Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews were searched between 1990 and December 2011. Eligible randomized controlled trials (RCTs) included an early intervention for preterm infants, involved parents, and had a community component. Of 2465 titles and abstracts identified, 254 full text articles were screened, and 18 met inclusion criteria. Eleven of these studies reported maternal outcomes of stress, anxiety, depressive symptoms, self-efficacy, and sensitivity/responsiveness in interactions with the infant. Meta-analyses using a random effects model were conducted with these 11 studies.
Interventions employed multiple components categorized as (a) psychosocial support, (b) parent education, and/or (c) therapeutic developmental interventions targeting the infant. All interventions used some form of parenting education. The reporting quality of most trials was adequate, and the risk of bias was low based on the Cochrane Collaboration tool. Meta-analyses demonstrated limited effects of interventions on maternal stress (Z = 0.40, p = 0.69) and sensitivity/responsiveness (Z = 1.84, p = 0.07). There were positive pooled effects of interventions on maternal anxiety (Z = 2.54, p = 0.01), depressive symptoms (Z = 4.04, p <.0001), and self-efficacy (Z = 2.05, p = 0.04).
Positive and clinically meaningful effects of early interventions were seen in some psychosocial aspects of mothers of preterm infants. This review was limited by the heterogeneity of outcome measures and inadequate reporting of statistics.
Implications of key findings
Interventions for preterm infants and their mothers should consider including psychosocial support for mothers. If the intervention involves mothers, outcomes for both mothers and preterm infants should be measured to better understand the mechanisms for change.
PMCID: PMC3561170  PMID: 23445560
3.  Depressive symptoms among immigrant and Canadian born mothers of preterm infants at neonatal intensive care discharge: a cross sectional study 
BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth  2013;13(Suppl 1):S11.
Mothers of preterm infants are considered at higher risk for depressive symptoms, higher than for mothers of healthy term infants. Predictors of depressive symptoms in mothers of preterm infants are not yet well established. Immigrant mothers of term infants have higher prevalence of depressive symptoms than Canadian born mothers but the relative prevalence for immigrant mothers of preterm infants is unknown. This study had two aims: (i) to investigate the prevalence of depressive symptoms in immigrant as compared to Canadian born mothers of preterm infants, and (ii) to determine what factors are associated with depressive symptoms in mothers of preterm infants.
This is a multi-site, cross sectional study of mothers whose preterm infants required hospitalization in neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Consecutive eligible mothers (N = 291) were recruited during the week prior to their infant’s NICU discharge. Mothers completed a self-administered questionnaire booklet of validated psychosocial/cultural measures including the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale (CES-D), Parental Stressor Scale:NICU, General Functioning Subscale of the McMaster Family Assessment Device, Social Support Index, and Vancouver Index of Acculturation; and demographic characteristics questions. Infant characteristics included gestational age, birth weight, sex, singleton/multiple birth, and Score for Neonatal Acute Physiology-II.
Immigrant mothers (N = 107), when compared to Canadian born mothers (N = 184), reported more depressive symptoms, poorer family functioning, less social support, and less mainstream acculturation. Hierarchical regression for a subsample of 271 mothers indicated that single parent status, high stress, poorer family functioning, and less social support were associated with increased depressive symptoms and accounted for 39% of the variance on the CES-D. Immigrant status did not contribute significantly to the final regression model.
Immigrant mothers of preterm infants are at increased risk for depressive symptoms. For immigrant and Canadian born mothers of preterm infants hospitalized in NICU and particularly for single mothers, interventions to reduce stress and increase family functioning and social support may reduce depressive symptoms. Given the effects of depression on maternal health and functioning, such an intervention may improve child outcomes.
PMCID: PMC3561187  PMID: 23445606
4.  A Comparison Between Late Preterm and Term Infants on Breastfeeding and Maternal Mental Health 
The objective of this study was to compare breastfeeding, postpartum mental health, and health service utilization between a group of late preterm (LP) maternal infant pairs and term counterparts. Data was drawn from a prospective community-based cohort in Calgary, Alberta. Bivariate and multivariable analyses were performed. LP infants were more likely to have had a longer median length of stay after birth (P < 0.001) and a higher re-hospitalization rate at 4-months (P < 0.001) compared to term infants. Mothers of LP infants were more likely to report immediate breastfeeding difficulties (P < 0.001) and earlier cessation of breastfeeding at 4-months postpartum (P = 0.008). Multivariable analyses revealed that LP status was an independent risk factor for excessive symptoms of maternal anxiety (OR = 2.07; 95 % CI = 1.08,3.98), but not for depression, stress, or low parenting morale. LP infants and their families are a vulnerable population with unique developmental trajectories. Further longitudinal research is required.
PMCID: PMC3785180  PMID: 23054457
Breastfeeding; Late preterm; Maternal mental health; Postpartum
5.  Postpartum nurses' perceptions of barriers to screening for intimate partner violence: a cross-sectional survey 
BMC Nursing  2012;11:2.
Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a human rights violation that is pervasive worldwide, and is particularly critical for women during the reproductive period. IPV includes physical, sexual and emotional abuse. Nurses on in-patient postpartum units are well-positioned to screen women for IPV, yet low screening rates suggest that barriers to screening exist. The purpose of this study was to (a) identify the frequency of screening for IPV, (b) the most important barriers to screening, (c) the relationship between the barriers to screening and the frequency of screening for types of abuse, and (d) to identify other factors that contribute to the frequency of screening for IPV.
In 2008, we conducted a cross-sectional survey of 96 nurses from postpartum inpatient units in three Canadian urban hospitals. The survey included the Barriers to Abuse Assessment Tool (BAAT), adapted for postpartum nurses (PPN). Ordinary least squares (OLS) regression models were used to predict barriers to screening for each type of IPV.
The frequency of screening varied by the type of abuse with highest screening rates found for physical and emotional abuse. According to the BAAT-PPN, lack of knowledge was the most important barrier to screening. The BAAT-PPN total score was negatively correlated with screening for physical, sexual, and emotional abuse. Using OLS regression models and after controlling for demographic characteristics, the BAAT-PPN explained 14%, 12%, and 11% of the variance in screening for physical, sexual and emotional abuse, respectively. Fluency in the language of the patient was negatively correlated with screening for each type of abuse. When added as Step 3 to OLS regression models, language fluency was associated with an additional decrease in the likelihood of screening for physical (beta coefficient = -.38, P < .001), sexual (beta coefficient = -.24, P = .05), and emotional abuse (beta coefficient = -.48, P < .001) and increased the variance explained by the model to 25%, 17%, and 31%, respectively.
Our findings support an inverse relationship between rates of screening for IPV and nurses' perceptions of barriers. Barriers to screening for IPV, particularly related to knowledge and language fluency, need to be addressed to increase rates of screening on postpartum units.
PMCID: PMC3305627  PMID: 22348260
6.  Mother Positivity and Family Adjustment in Households with Children with a Serious Disability 
Only limited attention has been given to parent coping resources in the positive adjustment of families of children with a disability. This study is the first to explore maternal positivity as a psychological coping resource related to family adjustment in these families. Consistent with broaden-and-build theory and prior positivity research, positivity was operationalized through a ratio of positive to negative affect scores. We employed longitudinal tracking over a 1 year interval. Children’s diagnostic categories included developmental conditions or impairments, mental health disorders, complex health conditions, physical/motor conditions or impairments, sensory impairments, and provisionally diagnosed conditions or impairments. We used a computer assisted telephone survey to gather psychological, family, and demographic information from 152 mothers in Alberta, Canada. Hierarchical regression analysis indicated mothers’ level of positivity and age, when controlled for family adjustment at Time 1, accounted for 46% of the variance in family adjustment at Time 2. That is, older mothers with higher positivity scores were found to live in households with higher levels of family adjustment after 1 year. These findings provide promising support for broaden-and-build theory, which posits that positive experienced emotions can offset and diminish the negative health and relationship impacts of chronic stress. Study findings support the salience of mothers’ positivity as a psychological coping resource, which is related to enhanced family adjustment in situations of childhood disability.
PMCID: PMC3345179  PMID: 22639526
Family adjustment; Child disability; Mother coping; Positivity; Longitudinal study; Psychology; Sociology, general; Child and School Psychology; Social Sciences, general
7.  Assessing Psychological Well-Being in Mothers of Children with Disability: Evaluation of the Parenting Morale Index and Family Impact of Childhood Disability Scale 
Journal of Pediatric Psychology  2010;36(5):506-516.
Objective Process model of stress and coping guided psychometric assessment of two brief measures of psychological well-being: Parenting Morale Index (PMI); Family Impact of Childhood Disability (FICD) scale. Methods Canadian mothers (N = 195) of children with disability (CWD) completed PMI, FICD, and validation measures (Brief Family Assessment Measure [FAM], Personal Well-Being Index, Positive and Negative Affect Schedule, General Self-Efficacy Scale, Social Desirability Scale) via computer-assisted telephone interview. Of these, 154 completed additional validation measures (Center for Epidemiological Studies—Depression Scale, Parenting Stress Index, Family Hardiness Index, Brief FAM) 1 year later. Results Factor structures of PMI and FICD were supported; both demonstrated internal consistency, temporal stability, and convergent and discriminant validity. After 1 year, PMI and FICD jointly predicted depressive symptoms, parenting stress, family hardiness, and family adjustment. Conclusion PMI and FICD can identify mothers of CWD at risk for poor psychological well-being to increase the specificity of supports.
PMCID: PMC3131705  PMID: 20843877
adjustment; children; coping skills; developmental disabilities; family functioning; parents; psychosocial functioning
9.  Building Canada’s health research capacity within the framework of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research 
Paediatrics & Child Health  2001;6(8):517-521.
The establishment of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) generated considerable excitement about the capacity for health research in Canada. The long term success of the CIHR will be determined, in part, by its ability to recruit, train and retain a cadre of talented researchers. During a workshop to develop the research agenda for one of the proposed institutes within the CIHR, a national, multidisciplinary group of clinical and basic science research trainees were invited to present their views about the challenges that face Canadian researchers of tomorrow. The objective of this paper is to present the challenges associated with recruiting, training and retaining health researchers, and to identify new opportunities provided by the creation of the CIHR. The present paper concludes with suggestions that may improve the success of researchers and, ultimately, the success of the CIHR.
PMCID: PMC2805586  PMID: 20084120
Brain drain; Faculty shortages; Recruitment; Research training; Mentorship

Results 1-9 (9)