The impact of pandemic restrictive visiting policies on infant wellbeing in a NICU

Vito Giordano, Renate Fuiko, Andrea Witting, Lukas Unterasinger, Philipp Steinbauer, Johanna Bajer, Alex Farr, Stefanie Hoehl, Philipp Deindl, Monika Olischar, Angelika Berger, Katrin Klebermass-Schrehof

BACKGROUND: Given the countrywide lockdown in the first pandemic period and the respective Hospital restrictive policies, we aimed to investigate if the SARS-COV-2 pandemic was associated to a reduced parental presence in the NICU and in which form this had an impact on infant wellbeing.

METHODS: Retrospective cohort study about altered NICUs parental presence (measured by number of visits and kangaroo care time) due to pandemic restrictive policies and its impact on infant wellbeing (measured through The Neonatal Pain Agitation and Sedation scale and nurses' descriptive documentation).

RESULTS: Presence of both parents at the same time was significantly lower during pandemic. Contrary, maternal presence only and total kangaroo-care time were higher within the pandemic (163.36 ± 94.07 vs 122.71 ± 64.03; p = 0.000). Lower NPASS values were documented during the lookdown (1.28 ± 1.7 vs 1.78 ± 2.2; p = 0.000).

CONCLUSION: Data collected through the pandemic confirm the importance of parental presence for infants' wellbeing in a NICU setting.

IMPACT: Parental support is an extremely important aspect for infants hospitalized in an intensive care unit. Their presence was limited in many NICUs worldwide during the SARS-COV-2 pandemic. This study confirm the importance of parental presence for infants' wellbeing also in a pandemic situation. Our results support a family-centered newborn individualized developmental care approach in the NICU.

Department of Clinical and Health Psychology, Department of Developmental and Educational Psychology
External organisation(s)
Medizinische Universität Wien, Universitätsklinikum Hamburg-Eppendorf
Pediatric Research
No. of pages
Publication date
Peer reviewed
Austrian Fields of Science 2012
501005 Developmental psychology
ASJC Scopus subject areas
Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
Portal url