The efficacy of toddler-parent psychotherapy for fostering cognitive development in offspring of depressed mothers

J Abnorm Child Psychol. 2000 Apr;28(2):135-48. doi: 10.1023/a:1005118713814.


The efficacy of Toddler-Parent Psychotherapy (TPP) as a preventive intervention for fostering cognitive development in the offspring of depressed mothers was evaluated. Mothers with major depressive disorder and their toddlers were randomly assigned to TPP (n = 43) or to a nonintervention group (n = 54) and compared to a control group (n = 61) of women with no current or past mental disorder. At baseline (age 20 months), the groups did not differ on the Bayley Mental Development Index. At post-intervention follow-up (age 3 years), a relative decline in IQ was found in the depressed nonintervention group, whereas the depressed intervention and the normal control groups continued to be equivalent, with higher WPPSI-R Full Scale and Verbal IQs. The worst outcome was found among nonintervention children whose mothers had subsequent depressive episodes. The results confirm the developmental risks faced by offspring of depressed mothers and support the efficacy of the preventive intervention in safeguarding successful cognitive development in at-risk youngsters.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Child of Impaired Parents / psychology*
  • Depressive Disorder*
  • Developmental Disabilities / prevention & control*
  • Family Therapy / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Mother-Child Relations
  • Object Attachment