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Infant Behav Dev. 2008 Jan;31(1):71-80. Epub 2007 Aug 21.

Maternal depression and infant temperament characteristics.

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  • 1School of Nursing, Virginia Commonwealth University, P.O. Box 980567, Richmond, VA 23298, USA.


One hundred-thirty-nine women participated in this longitudinal study from the third trimester of pregnancy through 8-months postpartum. Women completed depression scales at several time points and rated their infant's characteristics and childcare stress at 2- and 6-months postpartum. Mothers' reports of infant temperament were significantly different for depressed and non-depressed mothers, with depressed mothers reporting more difficult infants at both measurement points. These differences remained after controlling for histories of maternal abuse or prenatal anxiety, which occurred more often in the depressed mothers. There were no significant differences in childcare stress or perceived support between the groups. Infant temperament and childcare stress did not change over time. Recommendations for practice include consistent ongoing evaluations of the "goodness of fit" within the dyad and exploring interventions for depressed mothers that provide guidance about interactions with their infants and the appropriateness of the infant behaviors.

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