The aim of this study was to investigate the effectiveness of the Japanese Infant Mental Health Program (JIMHP) for preterm mother-infant dyads until the infants reached 12 months of corrected age. Mothers in the JIMHP group (n = 26) received one hospital visit in addition to standard care in the Growing Care Unit (GCU) and five home visits based on the principles of infant mental health (IMH) after discharge from the hospital, until the infant reached 12 months of corrected age. In contrast, mothers in the control program group (n = 40) received standard care in the GCU and three conventional home visits during the same period. The dyads were then compared across groups, revealing that the JIMHP dyads showed less maternal depressive symptoms, better maternal interaction, increased social support by medical workers and healthcare professionals, a high persistence rate for attending the program, and a more positive perception toward the program (p < .05). However, there were no significant differences in the impact of parenting stress or in child development. These results are discussed in terms of their significance and the practical/clinical availability of IMH principles and the JIMHP as a new support model for preterm infants in Japan.
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