Disruption to the development of maternal responsiveness? The impact of prenatal depression on mother-infant interactions

Infant Behav Dev. 2012 Dec;35(4):613-26. doi: 10.1016/j.infbeh.2012.07.020. Epub 2012 Sep 12.


Both prenatal and postnatal maternal depression are independently associated with an increased risk of adverse infant development. The impact of postnatal depression on infants may be mediated through the effect of depression in reducing maternal responsiveness. However, the mechanisms underlying the effect of prenatal depression are unclear. Using longitudinal data from over 900 mother-infant pairs in a UK birth cohort (ALSPAC), we found that women with high depressive symptom scores during mid pregnancy, but NOT when their infants were 8 months, had a 30% increased risk of low maternal responsiveness when the infant was 12 months compared to women with consistently low depression. This may provide a mechanism to explain the independent association between prenatal depression and poorer infant development.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child Development
  • Depression / psychology*
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Maternal Behavior / psychology*
  • Mother-Child Relations*
  • Mothers / psychology
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / psychology*