Visits by the family to the neonatal intensive care unit


R Latva, Tampere University Hospital, Department of Child Psychiatry, P.O. Box 2000, FIN-33521 Tampere, Finland. Tel: +358 3 311 611 | Email:


Aim: To investigate visiting frequency of family members, including mother, father, siblings and grandparents and associated factors during hospitalisation of preterm infants.

Methods: The study included all premature (< 37 weeks) infants born in Tampere University Hospital in 1997–1998 admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) with a birth weight less than 2500 g (n = 210). Maternal and infant data and visits made by family members were compiled from the infants' hospital records.

Results: The length of the infants' hospitalisation varied from 2 to 133 days (median 26, quartiles 19, 45). Mothers visited the NICU on average 6.7 days/week; fathers 4.8 days/week. Mothers visited less frequently the lower the gestational age and the longer the distance between home and hospital. Fathers visited less frequently if distance from home to hospital was longer and if the infant had siblings. A total of 92% of siblings and 80% of grandparents visited the hospital.

Conclusions: The results showed active visiting by the parents in the NICU. A lower gestational age was associated with lower visiting frequency for mothers. In contrast, more practical limitations such as geographical distance and other children to be taken care of had greater effect on the visiting frequency for fathers.