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Qual Life Res. 2013 Oct;22(8):2063-72. doi: 10.1007/s11136-012-0326-0. Epub 2012 Nov 30.

Well-being in mothers of children with congenital heart defects: a 3-year follow-up.

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Department of Psychosomatics and Health Behavior, Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Post Box 4404, Nydalen, 0403, Oslo, Norway,



This prospective case-cohort study compared subjective well-being (SWB) among mothers whose children had various degrees of congenital heart defects (CHD) with mothers of children without CHD (controls).


Nationwide CHD registry data were linked to data collected from the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study at gestational week 30, 6 months, and 36 months postpartum. A total of 175 mothers of children with mild, moderate, and severe CHD were identified in a cohort of 44,144 mothers. The SWB index was operationalized by means of three subscales: a cognitive aspect, positive affect, and negative affect.


Mothers of children with severe CHD reported significantly lower SWB than the controls at 6 months postpartum (p = .003), with further decrease in SWB at 36 months postpartum (p = .001). SWB levels in the mild and moderate CHD group did not deviate significantly from controls.


The findings suggest a pattern in which all stressors concerning the severely ill child lead to significant deterioration of maternal well-being. Having a child with mild or moderate CHD, which is a less severe and shorter-term stressor, did not reduce mothers' well-being.

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