Patterns of brain electrical activity in infants of depressed mothers who breastfeed and bottle feed: the mediating role of infant temperament

Biol Psychol. 2004 Oct;67(1-2):103-24. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsycho.2004.03.010.


Successful breastfeeding involves a dyadic interaction between a mother and her infant. The present study was designed to examine the association between breastfeeding and temperament in infants of depressed mothers. Seventy-eight mothers, 31 who were depressed, and their infants participated. Depressed mothers who had stable breastfeeding patterns were less likely to have infants with highly reactive temperaments. Multivariate analyses of variances (MANOVAs) showed that infants of depressed mothers who breastfed did not show the frontal asymmetry patterns, i.e., left frontal hypoactivity, previously reported. Moreover, breastfeeding stability, even in depressed mothers, was related to more positive dyadic interactions. Finally, a model was supported, in which the effects of maternal depression on infant feeding are mediated by infant frontal EEG asymmetry and infant temperament. These findings could provide a foundation for developing intervention techniques, employing breastfeeding promotion and support, directed toward attenuating the affective and physiological dysregulation already noted in infants of depressed mothers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affect
  • Breast Feeding*
  • Depression*
  • Electroencephalography*
  • Female
  • Frontal Lobe / physiology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Formula
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Models, Psychological*
  • Mother-Child Relations
  • Temperament