Background: Postnatal Depression has demonstrated long-term consequences on child cognitive and emotional development, however, the link between maternal and child pathology has not been clearly identified.
Objective: This study examined whether maternal bonding to the infant and young child is impaired by maternal depressive symptoms.
Methods: 101 mothers of newborn infants were recruited from local obstetric units and examined for psychopathology using Symptom Checklist, the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) and the Postpartum Bonding Questionnaire at two weeks, six weeks, four months and fourteen months postpartum.
Results: Maternal depressive symptoms at 2 weeks, 6 weeks and four months postnatally but not at fourteen months of infant’s age were found to be strongly associated with lower quality of maternal bonding to the infant and child from two weeks until fourteen months of postnatal age. Even mild and unrecognized maternal depressive symptoms had a significant impact on maternal bonding, if they occurred during the first four months of life.
Conclusions: This gives reason for increased concern for mother–infant dyads in the first few months after birth that could be regarded as a highly sensitive period for the development of the mother–child relationship. The findings warrant further studies and inspire the development of preventive programs focussing on infant and early childhood mental health by emphasizing protection and support during the first critical months.
Lamb, M 1983Early mother–neonate contact and the mother–child relationshipJ Child Psychol Psychiatry All Disc24487494Google Scholar
Lyons-Ruth, K, Zoll, D, Connell, D, Grunebaum, HU 1986The depressed mother and her one-year-old infant: environment, interaction, attachment and infant developmentTronick, EZField, T eds. Maternal depression and infant disturbanceJossey-BassSan FranciscoGoogle Scholar
Murray L (1988) Effects of postnatal depression on infant development: direct studies of early mother–infant interactions. In: Kumar R, Brockington I (eds) Motherhood and mental illness. Vol 2: causes and consequences: 159–190. Butterworths, London.Google Scholar
Murray, L 1992The impact of postnatal depression on infant developmentJ Child Psychol Psychiatry33543561PubMedGoogle Scholar
Murray, L, Fiori-Cowley, A, Hooper, R, Cooper, PJ 1996aThe impact of postnatal depression and associated adversity on early mother infant interactions and later infant outcomeChild Devel6725122524CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Murray, L, Hipwell, A, Hooper, R, Stein, A, Cooper, P 1996bThe cognitive development of 5-year-old children of postnatally depressed mothersJ Child Psychol Psychiatry All Disc37927935Google Scholar
O’Hara, MW, Swain, AM 1996Rates and risks of postpartum depression: a meta-analysisInt Rev Psychiatry83754Google Scholar
Pauli-Pott, U, Mertesacker, B, Beckmann, D 2004Predicting the development of infant emotionality from maternal characteristicsDevel Psychopathol161942CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Rutter, M, Thorpe, K, Greenwood, R, Northstone, K, Golding, J 2003Twins as a natural experiment to study the causes of mild language delay: I Design; twin-singleton differences in language and obstetric risksJ Child Psychol Psychiatry44326341PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
Taylor, A, Atkins, R, Kumar, R, Adams, D, Glover, V 2005A new Mother to Infant Bonding Scale: links with early maternal moodArch Womens Ment Health84551PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
Teissedre, F, Chabrol, H 2004A study of the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) on 859 mothers: detection of mothers at risk for postpartum depressionEncephale30376381PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
Teti, DM, Gelfand, CM, Messinger, DS, Isabella, R 1995Maternal depression and the quality of early attachment: an examination of infants, preschoolers, and their mothersDevel Psychol31364376CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Warren, S, Gunnar, MR, Kagan, J, Anders, TF, Simmens, SJ, Rones, M, Wease, S, Aron, E, Dahl, RE, Sroufe, LA 2003Maternal panic disorder: infant temperament, neurophysiology and parenting behaviorsJ Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry42814825PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar