Send to

Choose Destination
J Dev Behav Pediatr. 1990 Aug;11(4):190-4.

Maternal depressive symptoms during pregnancy, and newborn irritability.

Author information

Department of Pediatrics, Boston City Hospital/Boston University School of Medicine, MA 02118.


Maternal depression is associated with a wide range of adverse outcomes for children, including poor mother-infant interactions at 3 months post-partum. The aim of this study is to determine whether maternal depressive symptoms during pregnancy are associated with neonatal neurobehavioral functioning, as measured by the Neurologic and Adaptive Capacity Scale. The study population consists of 1,123 mothers and their term infants who were participants in a larger study of maternal health and infant outcomes. Women were administered the Center for Epidemiologic Studies-Depression (CES-D) questionnaire for depressive symptoms during their pregnancy. Their infants were subsequently assessed by a pediatrician blind to their CES-D scores. The CES-D score was associated with unconsolability and excessive crying (p less than 0.01). The higher the mother's CES-D score, the more likely it was that the infant would be unconsolable or cry excessively. Mothers with CES-D scores at the 90th percentile were 2.6 times more likely to have unconsolable newborns, compared with women with CES-D scores at the 10th percentile (95% C.I. = 1.54, 4.23). When potentially confounding variables, such as cigarette smoking, alcohol, marijuana, and cocaine use, poor weight gain, income, birth weight, and other drug use, were controlled, the relationship between CES-D score and newborn unconsolability and excessive crying remain unchanged. The results of this study suggest that the relationship between early childhood problems and maternal depressive symptoms may be part of a sequence that starts with depressive symptoms during pregnancy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Loading ...
Support Center