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Br J Psychiatry Suppl. 2004 Feb;46:s38-44.

Measurement of mother-infant interactions and the home environment in a European setting: preliminary results from a cross-cultural study.

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Department of Psychology, University of Reading, UK.



Infant development is adversely affected in the context of postnatal depression. This relationship may be mediated by both the nature of early mother-infant interactions and the quality of the home environment.


To establish the usefulness of the Global Ratings Scales of Mother-Infant Interaction and the Infant-Toddler version of the Home Observation for the Measurement of the Environment (IT-HOME), and to test expected associations of the measures with characteristics of the social context and with major or minor depression.


Both assessments were administered postnatally in four European centres; 144 mothers were assessed with the Global Ratings Scales and 114 with the IT-HOME. Affective disorder was assessed by means of the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV Disorders.


Analyses of mother-infant interaction indicated no main effect for depression but maternal sensitivity to infant behaviour was associated with better infant communication, especially for women who were not depressed. Poor overall emotional support also reduced sensitivity scores. Poor support was also related to poorer IT-HOME scores, but there was no effect of depression.


The Global Ratings Scales were effectively applied but there was less evidence of the usefulness of the IT-HOME.

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