Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Psychopathology. 2009;42(1):11-21. doi: 10.1159/000173699. Epub 2008 Nov 20.

The influence of postnatal psychiatric disorder on child development. Is maternal preoccupation one of the key underlying processes?

Author information

  • 1Department of Psychiatry, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK.


There is considerable evidence that maternal postnatal psychiatric disorder has an adverse influence on infant development. In attempting to examine the pathways of intergenerational transmission, most research has concentrated on genetic factors or on maternal behaviours during mother-child interaction and attachment. However, researchers have largely ignored the possible role of maternal cognition underlying behaviour, especially the thought and attentional processes involved in psychiatric disorders. This paper argues that a particular form of maternal cognition, namely 'preoccupation', is one key, but under-recognised, mechanism in the transmission of psychiatric disturbance. We propose that preoccupation interferes with specific aspects of mental functioning, especially attention and responsivity to the environment. This impairs the mother's parenting capacities and adversely affects mother-child interaction and child development.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for S. Karger AG, Basel, Switzerland Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Support Center