Family Social Support Modifies the Relationships Between Childhood Maltreatment Severity, Economic Adversity and Postpartum Depressive Symptoms

Matern Child Health J. 2017 May;21(5):1018-1025. doi: 10.1007/s10995-016-2197-4.


Objectives: This study examines the main and moderating effects of childhood abuse or neglect severity, income, and family social support on the presence of postpartum depressive symptoms (PDS).

Methods: Participants included 183 postpartum mothers who endorsed a history of childhood maltreatment (CM) and enrolled in a longitudinal study of mother and child outcomes. Participants completed questionnaires to assess CM severity, associated societal and maternal characteristics, and depressive symptom severity.

Results: The results confirm previously identified links between CM severity and PDS. Further, hierarchical linear regression analyses indicate the interaction of household income and interpersonal support from the family attenuates the relationship between CM severity and PDS. The final model accounted for 29% of the variance of PDS scores, a large effect size.

Conclusions: This study is the first to demonstrate interrelationships between income and social support on resilience to postpartum psychopathology in childhood trauma-surviving women. Social support appeared to protect against PDS for all mothers in this study while income only conferred a protective effect when accompanied by family support. For clinicians, this implies the need to focus on improving family and other relationships, especially for at-risk mothers.

Keywords: Childhood maltreatment; Income; Postpartum depression; Social support; Women.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child Abuse / psychology*
  • Depression, Postpartum / complications*
  • Depression, Postpartum / psychology
  • Family Relations / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Mothers / psychology*
  • Social Class
  • Social Support*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires