Send to

Choose Destination
Psychiatry Res. 2017 Dec;258:124-129. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2017.09.068. Epub 2017 Sep 28.

How does maternal oxytocin influence children's mental health problem and maternal mental health problem?

Author information

School of Arts and Humanities, Tung Wah College, 90A Shantung Street, Kowloon, Hong Kong. Electronic address:
Department of Educational Psychology, Faculty of Education, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, N.T., Hong Kong.
School of Life Science, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, N.T., Hong Kong.


This study aims to explore the interrelationship among maternal oxytocin (OT) responsiveness, maternal mental health, maternal parenting behavior, and mental health of children under a free-play interaction. 61 mother-child dyads were recruited for the study. Maternal mental health problem and parenting self-efficacy were measured using self-reported questionnaires. The mental health problems of children were also evaluated using a mother-reported questionnaire. Furthermore, salivary OT was collected before and after a standardized 10min free-play interaction. Parenting behaviors, including eye gaze and touch, were measured during the free-play interaction. Maternal OT responsiveness was significantly associated with less maternal mental health problem, touch frequency, and mental health problem of children but not with parenting self-efficacy. In the multivariate linear regression analysis that considers maternal OT responsiveness and maternal and children's mental health problems, maternal OT responsiveness was not associated with the mental health problems of children. This result suggested that maternal mental health problem played a mediational role between maternal OT responsiveness and the mental health problem of children. Results supported the assertion that maternal OT responsiveness contributed to the increased risk of maternal mental health problems and, subsequently, the risk of mental health problems of their children.


Child; Eye gaze; Maternal; Mental health; Oxytocin; Touch

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center