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Infant Behav Dev. 2011 Dec;34(4):487-503. doi: 10.1016/j.infbeh.2011.07.007. Epub 2011 Aug 21.

Maternal posttraumatic stress symptoms and infant emotional reactivity and emotion regulation.

Author information

1
Department of Psychiatry, Children's Hospital Boston, Boston, MA 02115, United States. michelle.bosquet@childrens.harvard.edu

Abstract

The current study examined associations between maternal posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms and infant emotional reactivity and emotion regulation during the first year of life in a primarily low-income, urban, ethnic/racial minority sample of 52 mother-infant dyads. Mothers completed questionnaires assessing their own trauma exposure history and current PTSD and depressive symptoms and their infants' temperament when the infants were 6 months old. Dyads participated in the repeated Still-Face Paradigm (SFP-R) when the infants were 6 months old, and infant affective states were coded for each SFP-R episode. Mothers completed questionnaires assessing infant trauma exposure history and infant current emotional and behavioral symptoms when the infants were 13 months old. Maternal PTSD symptoms predicted infants' emotion regulation at 6 months as assessed by (a) infant ability to recover from distress during the SFP-R and (b) maternal report of infant rate of recovery from distress/arousal in daily life. Maternal PTSD symptoms also predicted maternal report of infant externalizing, internalizing, and dysregulation symptoms at 13 months. Maternal PTSD was not associated with measures of infant emotional reactivity. Neither maternal depressive symptoms nor infant direct exposure to trauma accounted for the associations between maternal PTSD symptoms and infant outcomes. These findings suggest that maternal PTSD is associated with offspring emotion regulation difficulties as early as infancy. Such difficulties may contribute to increased risk of mental health problems among children of mothers with PTSD.

PMID:
21862136
PMCID:
PMC3180882
DOI:
10.1016/j.infbeh.2011.07.007
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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