Parents of infants with autistic behaviors frequently face difficulties in childrearing owing to their infants' behavioral traits. This study aimed to clarify the characteristics of parent-infant interaction, parental depressive symptoms, and parenting stress in the context of infants' autistic behaviors. We employed a cross-sectional, case-control observational design with a case group of 52 parents and a control group of 56 parents. We measured parent-infant interaction using the Japanese version of the Nursing Child Assessment Teaching Scale, and parental depressive symptoms and parenting stress with the Japanese version of the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale and the Japanese Parenting Stress Index Short Form, respectively. There was no significant difference between the two groups regarding parent-infant interaction. Mothers in the case group had significantly higher depressive symptoms than those in the control group (p <.05). Both fathers (p <.05) and mothers (p <.01) in the case group scored significantly higher than the control group on parenting stress. Thus, parents of infants with autistic behaviors have greater mental health problems right from infancy. We suggest that nurses should provide families with appropriate support to promote adaptive parent-infant interaction and prevent the aggravation of parental mental health problems irrespective of Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnoses.
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