Postpartum Depression, Effects on Infant

Douglas M. Teti, Nissa Towe-Goodman, Marina Gonzalez

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Scopus citations


Postpartum depression is common and can have insidious effects on mothers and children, particularly if depression persists beyond the early postpartum period. Infants of depressed mothers are at risk for irritability and withdrawal, insecure attachment, undernourishment, disrupted sleep patterns, attentional deficits, neuro-developmental delays, and poorer health outcomes. Rates of psychiatric disturbance among children of depressed mothers can be four-to-five times those among children of nondepressed mothers, and such children are at risk for poor academic performance, interpersonal difficulties, substance abuse, and delinquency. Depression can seriously compromise parenting. Depressed mothers are likely to hold negative, unfavorably views of their children and themselves as parents, and mothers may attribute negative intentions and motives to their children. In turn, depressed parenting is less warm, attuned, and responsive than nondepressed parenting. Individual differences in depressed parenting are evident and appear to be associated with differences in child temperament, as well as the broader quality of ‘fit’ between a mother’s condition, child characteristics, and the family environment. Fortunately, depression is highly treatable, and depressed mothers can benefit from both pharmacological and support-based ‘talking’ intervention and therapies. Pediatricians can play an important role in referring affected mothers to appropriate mental health facilities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationEncyclopedia of Infant and Early Childhood Development
Number of pages9
ISBN (Electronic)9780128165119
ISBN (Print)9780128165126
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Social Sciences


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