Post-traumatic stress disorder is generally associated with war veterans or crime victims, but the disorder is increasingly evident in parents of children who are born prematurely, experts say.

The reason: parents of children who are born early and spend time in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) contend with multiple traumas. An unexpectedly early birth is often followed by numerous health crises and an uncertainty about whether the child will live or die.

A recent study followed 18 parents of preemies and found that three had post-traumatic stress disorder within four. Seven more of the parents were considered at high risk for the disorder.

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The study, conducted by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine, also found that fathers did not generally suffer from high stress while their child was in the NICU, but were more likely to be stressed months later. The opposite was true for mothers.

Whether or not a parent experiences high stress often has more to do with the person’s coping style and less to do with the severity of the child’s condition, experts say. Nonetheless, hospitals need to do more to help parents cope, reports The New York Times. To read more click here.