Original Paper

Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology

, Volume 48, Issue 8, pp 1335-1345

First online:

Antenatal and postnatal maternal mental health as determinants of infant neurodevelopment at 18 months of age in a mother–child cohort (Rhea Study) in Crete, Greece

  • Katerina KoutraAffiliated withDepartment of Social Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of CreteDepartment of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Crete Email author 
  • , Leda ChatziAffiliated withDepartment of Social Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Crete
  • , Manolis BagkerisAffiliated withDepartment of Social Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Crete
  • , Maria VassilakiAffiliated withDepartment of Social Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Crete
  • , Panos BitsiosAffiliated withDepartment of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Crete
  • , Manolis KogevinasAffiliated withNational School of Public HealthCentre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology (CREAL)Municipal Institute of Medical ResearchCIBER Epidemiologia y Salud Pública (CIBERESP)

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Abstract

Purpose

A growing body of evidence links poor maternal mental health with negative outcomes on early child development. We examined the effect of antenatal and postnatal maternal mental health on infant neurodevelopment at age 18 months in a population-based mother–child cohort (Rhea Study) in Crete, Greece.

Methods

Self-reported measures of maternal depression (EPDS), trait anxiety (STAI-Trait) and personality traits (EPQ-R) were assessed in a sample of women during pregnancy and at 8 weeks postpartum (n = 223). An additional sample of 247 mothers also completed the EPDS scale at 8 weeks postpartum (n = 470). Neurodevelopment at 18 months was assessed with the use of Bayley Scales of Infant and Toddler Development (3rd edition).

Results

Multivariable linear regression models adjusted for confounders revealed that antenatal depressive symptoms (EPDS ≥ 13) were associated with decrease in cognitive development independently of postnatal depression. High trait anxiety and extraversion were associated with decrease and increase, respectively, in social–emotional development. Also, high trait anxiety and neuroticism had a positive effect on infants’ expressive communication. Finally, postpartum depressive symptoms (EPDS ≥ 13) were associated with decrease in cognitive and fine motor development independently of antenatal depression.

Conclusions

These findings suggest that antenatal and postnatal maternal psychological well-being has important consequences on early child neurodevelopment.

Keywords

Antenatal maternal mental health Postpartum depression Infant neurodevelopment