The role of maternal attachment: Its effects on postpartum depression and infant social-emotional development
Mason, Zachary S.
MetadataShow full item record
This study examined the relationship between postpartum depression and infant social-emotional development, with the purpose of determining if mother's reports of attachment to their infants had any impact on this relationship. A total of 232 mother-infant pairs were assessed when infants were two and six months of age. At the two-month assessment, mothers were evaluated for postpartum depression using the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS), and maternal attachment was assessed using the Maternal Postnatal Attachment Scale (MPAS). At six-months, the infant's social-emotional development was assessed using the Ages and Stages Questionnaires: Social-Emotional (ASQ: SE), and the parent-child interaction was measured by the Parent-Child Dysfunctional Interaction (P-CDI) subscale of the Parenting Stress Index- Short Form (PSI-SF). Findings revealed an association between the independent variable of maternal depression and both of the dependent variables related to child outcomes (ASQ: SE and P-CDI scores). Other results indicated that, contrary to expectations, maternal attachment mediated rather than moderated these findings. In other words, the effect of maternal depression on child outcomes (both ASQ: SE and P-CDI scores) was largely the result of the negative effects of maternal depression on mother's perceptions of their attachment relationship with their infants (higher maternal depression > lower maternal attachment > poorer child outcomes). Discussion focuses on the implication of these findings for early intervention and for improving pediatricians' understanding of the nature and importance of post-partum depression in relation to children's development.