Neonatal care during the COVID-19 pandemic-a global survey of parents' experiences regarding infant and family-centred developmental care

J. Kostenzer, J. Hoffmann, C. von Rosenstiel-Pulver, A. Walsh, L.J.I. Zimmermann, S. Mader*, COVID-19 Zero Separation Collaborative Group

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: The COVID-19 pandemic restrictions affect provision and quality of neonatal care. This global study explores parents' experiences regarding the impact of the restrictions on key characteristics of infant and family-centred developmental care (IFCDC) during the first year of the pandemic. Methods: For this cross-sectional study, a pre-tested online survey with 52 questions and translated into 23 languages was used to collect data between August and November 2020. Parents of sick or preterm infants born during the pandemic and receiving special/intensive care were eligible for participation. Data analysis included descriptive statistics and statistical testing based on different levels of restrictive measures. Findings: In total, 2103 participants from 56 countries provided interpretable data. Fifty-two percent of respondents were not allowed to have another person present during birth. Percentages increased with the extent of restrictions in the respondents' country of residence (p = 0.002). Twenty-one percent of total respondents indicated that no-one was allowed to be present with the infant receiving special/intensive care. The frequency (p < 0.001) and duration (p = 0.001) of permitted presence largely depended on the extent of restrictions. The more restrictive the policy measures were, the more the respondents worried about the pandemic situation during pregnancy and after birth. Interpretation: COVID-19 related restrictions severely challenged evidence-based cornerstones of IFCDC, such as separating parents/ legal guardians and their newborns. Our findings must therefore be considered by public health experts and policy makers alike to reduce unnecessary suffering, calling for a zero separation policy. Funding: EFCNI received an earmarked donation by Novartis Pharma AG in support of this study. (c) 2021 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (
Original languageEnglish
Article number101056
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2021


  • Preterm Birth
  • Newborn Infant
  • Neonatal Intensive Care Unit
  • Parents
  • Covid-19
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Pandemic
  • Low Birth Weight
  • Kangaroo Mother Care
  • Infant and Family-Centred Developmental
  • Care
  • Survey

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