Parental Leave Policy as a Strategy to Improve Outcomes among Premature Infants

Published In

Health & Social Work

Document Type


Publication Date



Parental leave -- Government policy -- United States, Neonatal intensive care, Premature infants -- Family relationships, Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (United States)


Although gains have been made in premature birth rates among racial and ethnic minority and low socioeconomic status populations, tremendous disparities still exist in both prematurity rates and health outcomes for preterm infants. Parental involvement is known to improve health outcomes for preterm babies. However, a gap in evidence exists around whether parental involvement can help ameliorate the disparities in both short- and long-term outcomes for their preterm children. Families more likely to experience preterm birth are also less likely to have access to paid leave and thus experience significant systemic barriers to involvement, especially when their newborns are hospitalized. This article describes the research gap in this area and explores pathways by which social workers may ameliorate disparities in preterm birth outcomes through practice, policy, and research.


© 2015 National Association of Social Workers

Copyright of Health & Social Work is the property of Oxford University Press / USA and its content may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright holder's express written permission. However, users may print, download, or email articles for individual use.



Persistent Identifier