Development and Psychopathology


Infants of depressed mothers

Tiffany Fielda1 c1

a1 Mailman Center for Child Development, University of Miami Medical School


Literature is reviewed demonstrating the impact of maternal depression on early infant interactions and development. Infants of depressed mothers (a) develop a depressed mood style as early as 3 months; (b) this mood generalizes to interactions with nondepressed women; (c) it persists over the first year if the mother's depression persists; and (d) it affects growth and Bayley developmental scores by the end of the first year. Other data are reviewed on individual differences including maternal depression styles of withdrawal and intrusion, negative behavior matching, and distorted perceptions of behavior. Finally, genetic, intrauterine, and extrauterine environment effects are discussed and interventions are suggested for altering the mother's depressed behavior and distorted perceptions. The review concludes that a developmental psychopathology perspective is needed to better understand the development of early depression.


c1 Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Tiffany Field, Touch Research Institute, University of Miami School of Medicine, PO Box 016820, Miami, FL 33101.