The mother-infant relationship and infant attachment in a South African peri-urban settlement

Child Dev. 2005 Sep-Oct;76(5):1044-54. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2005.00896.x.


A sample of 147 mother-infant dyads was recruited from a peri-urban settlement outside Cape Town and seen at 2- and 18-months postpartum. At 18 months, 61.9% of the infants were rated as securely attached (B); 4.1% as avoidant (A); 8.2% as resistant (C); and 25.8% disorganized (D). Postpartum depression at 2 months, and indices of poor parenting at both 2 and 18 months, were associated with insecure infant attachment. The critical 2-month predictor variables for insecure infant attachment were maternal intrusiveness and maternal remoteness, and early maternal depression. When concurrent maternal sensitivity was considered, the quality of the early mother-infant relationship remained important, but maternal depression was no longer predictive. Cross-cultural differences and consistencies in the development of attachment are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Depression / diagnosis
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Maternal Behavior / psychology
  • Mother-Child Relations*
  • Object Attachment*
  • South Africa
  • Urban Population*