Parents Matter: Examination of Family Presence in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

Sage N. Saxton, Bethany L. Walker, Dmitry Dukhovny

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Objective The aim of this study is to examine presence trends for parents and family members during an infant's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) hospitalization. Study Design We conducted a review of 386 infants hospitalized in a Level IV NICU in the Northwestern United States between June 2013 and April 2014 to quantitatively examine presence trends. Results Infants were visited by multiple family members. The father was the most common first family member at the bedside after admission. Parents were present over half of the days their infants were in the NICU (medians: mothers 75% and fathers 59%), but a relatively small percentage of the total hospitalization time (medians: 10% mothers and 5% fathers). Fathers', grandmothers', and grandfathers' presence with their infants in the NICU were negatively correlated with infants' total length of stay in the NICU. This finding was not replicated for mothers. Female family members were present in the NICU more than male family members. Conclusion Parents are present a small percent of the time their infants are hospitalized in the NICU. NICU based methods to improve family presence may lead to improved patient and family centered care. Key Points Mothers are present 10% of total NICU time. Fathers are present 5% of total NICU time. Fathers' presence was associated with a shorter stay. Grandparents' presence was associated with a shorter stay. Females were present significantly more than males.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1023-1030
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican journal of perinatology
Issue number10
StatePublished - Aug 1 2021


  • family-centered care
  • fathers
  • mothers
  • neonatal intensive care unit
  • presence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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