Depressed mothers' assessments of their neonates' behaviors

Sybil Hart, Tiffany Field, Marni Roitfarb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Neonates were assessed at delivery and again at 1 month by examiners and by their depressed or nondepressed mothers. Examiner assessments were conducted using the Brazelton Neonatal Behavioral Assessment Scale (NBAS). Maternal assessments were conducted by mothers using a simplified version of the NBAS, the Mother's Assessment of the Behavior of her Infant (MABI). Examiners rated neonates of depressed mothers lower than infants of nondepressed mothers on state organization. At delivery, newborn infants of depressed mothers were given lower state regulation scores by their mothers than by the examiners and, 1 month later, examiners' state regulation ratings were as negative as those of the depressed mothers. Conversely, infants of nondepressed mothers were given higher social interaction scores by their mothers than by the examiners, and 1 month later, examiner ratings of social interaction were as positive as those of the nondepressed mothers. These findings suggest that infants of depressed mothers may be placed at risk by prenatal influences and by risks associated with maternal perceptions. Perceptions of infants appear to be colored by maternal depression status as early as the immediate postpartum period and, though "subjective," these perceptions are predictive of infant outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)200-210
Number of pages11
JournalInfant Mental Health Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 1999
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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