Archives of Women's Mental Health

, Volume 16, Issue 5, pp 381–389 | Cite as

Mother-child bonding at 1 year; associations with symptoms of postnatal depression and bonding in the first few weeks

  • Madeleine O’Higgins
  • Ian St James Roberts
  • Vivette Glover
  • Alyx Taylor
Original Article


Some mothers experience neutral or negative feelings toward their new infant. This study examined the association between symptoms of postnatal depression and mother–infant bonding and the persistence of these feelings over the first year. Bonding was assessed using the Mother–Infant Bonding Scale (MIBQ), at four times postnatal, “early weeks” (1–4 weeks), 9 weeks, 16 weeks and 1 year, in 50 depressed, Edinburgh Postnatal Depression scale (EPDS) ≥13 at 4 weeks post natal, and 29 non-depressed mothers. A significant association between the EPDS score at 4 weeks and bonding score at 1–4 weeks, 9 weeks, and at 1 year postnatal, χ 2(1) = 9.85, p < 0.01, 5.44, p < 0.05 and 5.21, p < 0.05, respectively, was found, with a trend at 16 weeks. There was a strong association between bonding in the early weeks and all later time points χ 2(1) = 17.26, p < 0.001, 7.89, p < 0.01 and 13.69, p < 0.001, respectively. Regression showed early bonding rather than early depression was the major predictor of bonding at 1 year. Women who are depressed postnatally can fail to bond well with their baby and this can persist for a year. Early identification and intervention for poor bonding is indicated.


Postnatal Depression Bonding Mother Infant 



Funding of this study was provided by the Foundation for Integrated Health. We thank Diana Adams for all her help on the project and also all the mothers and babies who took part.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Wien 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Madeleine O’Higgins
    • 1
  • Ian St James Roberts
    • 2
  • Vivette Glover
    • 3
  • Alyx Taylor
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.Krembil Neuroscience CentreToronto Western HospitalTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Thomas Coram Research Unit Institute of EducationUniversity of LondonLondonUK
  3. 3.Institute of Reproductive and Developmental Biology, Faculty of MedicineImperial CollegeLondonUK
  4. 4.School of Biomedical Sciences, King’s College, LondonLondonUK

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