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Effect of Parenting Interventions on Perinatal Depression and Implications for Infant Developmental Outcomes: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis


Considering the significant impact of perinatal depression on both maternal wellbeing and infant development, it is important to examine the effectiveness of interventions designed to prevent or reduce these risks. This systematic review and meta-analysis synthesised evidence on parenting intervention in relation to how such programs affect symptoms of perinatal depression and infant outcomes within 12 months of postpartum. We followed the Cochrane Collaboration guidelines on conducting systematic reviews and meta-analyses. A total of five electronic databases were searched for controlled trials that met pre-determined eligibility criteria. Outcomes of interest were maternal depressive symptoms and infants’ language, motor and socioemotional development. Seventeen studies involving 1665 participants were included in the systematic review. Estimates from a random effects model of 15 studies in the final meta-analysis revealed statistically significant reductions in maternal depressive symptoms at post-intervention for mothers allocated to receive parenting interventions (SMD = − 0.34, 95%CI   − 0.44,  − 0.24; z = 5.97, p < 0.001; I2 = 0%). Data on infant development outcomes from the included studies were scarce, and therefore, infant outcomes were not analysed in this review. For individual study outcomes, the majority of studies reported a general trend for reductions in maternal depressive symptoms from pre- to post-intervention. Although parenting interventions are frequently considered preventive strategies that are designed to offer support to parents and impart skills that promote their physical and psychological wellbeing, our findings suggest that these interventions have a positive effect on perinatal depressive symptoms. Implications and recommendations for future research are addressed. The systematic review protocol was registered with PROSPERO 2020 CRD42020184491.

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We are grateful for the support of Miranda Newell (Librarian, The University of Queensland) with the creation of the search strategy.


JA is supported by a scholarship granted by the University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia. AEM is supported by Children’s Hospital Foundation Early Career Fellowships (50223 and ECR0112020). This research did not receive any specific Grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

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Correspondence to Japheth Adina.

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The Parenting and Family Support Centre is partly funded by royalties stemming from published resources of the Triple P—Positive Parenting Program, which is developed and owned by The University of Queensland (UQ). Royalties are also distributed to the Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences at UQ and contributory authors of published Triple P resources. Triple P International (TPI) Pty Ltd is a private company licensed by Uniquest Pty Ltd on behalf of UQ, to publish and disseminate Triple P worldwide. The authors of this report have no share or ownership of TPI. Dr Morawska receives royalties from TPI. TPI had no involvement in the study design, collection, analysis or interpretation of data, or writing of this report. Dr Morawska is an employee at UQ. Dr Mitchell is an honorary research fellow at UQ. Japheth Adina and Melinda McBryde are postgraduate students at UQ.

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This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.

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Adina, J., Morawska, A., Mitchell, A.E. et al. Effect of Parenting Interventions on Perinatal Depression and Implications for Infant Developmental Outcomes: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Clin Child Fam Psychol Rev 25, 316–338 (2022).

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  • Parenting
  • Parenting interventions
  • Perinatal depression
  • Infant outcomes
  • Systematic review
  • Meta-analysis