An observational study of mothers with eating disorders and their infants

J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 1994 May;35(4):733-48. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-7610.1994.tb01218.x.


Two groups of primiparous mothers and their infants were observed at home during play and at a mealtime when the infants were 12-24 months old. The index group consisted of mothers who had experienced an eating disorder during the postnatal year while the control group had been free from such psychopathology. The main findings were that, when compared to controls, the index mothers were more intrusive with their infants during both mealtimes and play; and that they expressed more negative emotion towards their infants during mealtimes but not during play. There were, however, no differences between the groups in their positive expressed emotion. The index infants' emotional tone was generally more negative and their mealtimes more conflictual compared to controls. Furthermore, the index infants tended to be lighter than controls and infant weight was found to be independently and inversely related to both the amount of conflict during mealtimes and the extent of the mother's concern about her own body shape.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anorexia Nervosa / diagnosis
  • Anorexia Nervosa / psychology
  • Body Image
  • Body Weight*
  • Bulimia / diagnosis
  • Bulimia / psychology
  • Child Development
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / diagnosis
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / psychology*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Food*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Maternal Behavior
  • Mother-Child Relations*
  • Mothers / psychology*
  • Personality Assessment
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / diagnosis
  • Pregnancy Complications / psychology*