Development and Psychopathology

The interaction of maternal and infant vulnerabilities on developing attachment relationships

a1 Syracuse University


The present study sought to document an example of how maternal and infant vulnerabilities interact in contributing to the quality of early attachment relationships. Maternal depressive symptoms, neonatal health characteristics, and infant–mother attachment were assessed for 42 preterm, low birth weight infants and 42 full-term infants at 12 months postterm. Results indicated that preterm birth moderated the relation between maternal depressive symptoms and quality of infant–mother attachment, even controlling for level of neonatal health complications. Preterm infants with more symptomatic mothers were most likely to be classified as insecurely attached to their mothers, whereas no direct relation between subclinical depressive symptoms and attachment was found for full-term infants.

c1 Julie Poehlmann, Human Development and Family Studies, University of Wisconsin–Madison, 1430 Linden Drive, Madison, WI 53706; E-mail: