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The long-term impact of postnatal depressed mood on mother–child interaction: a preliminary study

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The aim of this study was to explore the long-term impact of depressive symptomatology on mother-child interaction and on children's attachment to their mothers. A sample of 45 women who had scored either high (> 12) or low (< 9) on the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) at 2 months postpartum were subsequently filmed in interactions with their infants when they reached 15-18 months of age. The films were coded using the Parent-Child Early Relational Assessment Scale, and behavioural scores for the two groups were compared. Children of high EPDS scorers showed less attention skills in a free play situation and were more likely to be classified as having either an insecure attachment to their mothers or a secure attachment that showed restricted joy. Cluster analysis showed a group of nine children with impaired mother-child interaction. Seven of these children had mothers with high EPDS scores. The findings provide evidence that children of high EPDS scorers developed 'representations' of the mother and the interaction with her as less joyful, which seem to remain beyond the period of the mother's depressed mood.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: February 1, 2001


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