The effect of postnatal depression on mother-infant interaction, infant response to the Still-face perturbation, and performance on an Instrumental Learning task.
Stanley C., Murray L., Stein A.
A representative community sample of primiparous depressed women and a nondepressed control group were assessed while in interaction with their infants at 2 months postpartum. At 3 months, infants were assessed on the Still-face perturbation of face to face interaction, and a subsample completed an Instrumental Learning paradigm. Compared to nondepressed women, depressed mothers' interactions were both less contingent and less affectively attuned to infant behavior. Postnatal depression did not adversely affect the infant's performance in either the Still-face perturbation or the Instrumental Learning assessment. Maternal responsiveness in interactions at 2 months predicted the infant's performance in the Instrumental Learning assessment but not in the Still-face perturbation. The implications of these findings for theories of infant cognitive and emotional development are discussed.