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Maternal Depressive Symptoms and Parenting Practices 3-Months Postpartum


Using data from two postpartum depression randomized trials, we examined the association between postpartum depressive symptoms and parenting practices among a diverse group of mothers. We examined the association between safety practices (back sleep position, car seat use, smoke alarm), feeding practices (breastfeeding, infant intake of cereal, juice, water), and health care practices (routine well child and Emergency Room (ER) visits) with 3-month postpartum depressive symptoms assessed using the Edinburgh Depression Scale (EPDS ≥10). Fifty-one percent of mothers were black or Latina, 33 % had Medicaid, and 30 % were foreign born. Depressed mothers were less likely to have their infant use back sleep position (60 vs. 79 %, p < .001), always use a car seat (67 vs. 84 %, p < .001), more likely to feed their infants water, juice, or cereal (36 vs. 25 %, p = .04 respectively), and to bring their babies for ER visits (26 vs. 16 %, p = .03) as compared with non-depressed mothers. In multivariable model, depressed mothers remained less likely to have their infant use the back sleep position, to use a car seat, and to have a working smoke alarm in the home. Findings suggest the need to intervene early among mothers with depressive symptoms and reinforce positive parenting practices.

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This study was supported by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities grant 5P60MD000270 (Trial Registry Number ID: NCT01312883) and the National Institute of Mental Health grant 5R01MH77683 (Trial Registry Number ID: NCT00951717).

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Correspondence to Amy Balbierz.

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Balbierz, A., Bodnar-Deren, S., Wang, J.J. et al. Maternal Depressive Symptoms and Parenting Practices 3-Months Postpartum. Matern Child Health J 19, 1212–1219 (2015).

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  • Depression
  • Mothers
  • Safety
  • Feeding
  • Health care