Eighty pregnant women were assessed for depression during mid-pregnancy (Mean gestational age = 25.9 weeks) and shortly after delivery in order to assess the effects of the onset and chronicity of maternal depression on neonatal behavior. The women were classified as reporting depressive symptoms: (1) only during the prepartum assessment; (2) only during the postpartum assessment; (3) during both the prepartum and postpartum assessments; or (4) reporting no depressive symptoms at either the prepartum or the postpartum assessment. Neonates born to mothers reporting symptoms of depression at any time point exhibited greater indeterminate sleep than neonates of non-depressed mothers. Neonates born to mothers reporting prenatal depression spent more time fussing and crying and exhibited more stress behaviors than neonates born to non-depressed mothers or neonates born to mothers exhibiting symptoms of depression only during the postpartum assessment. Finally, neonates born to mothers exhibiting symptoms of depression during both the prepartum and postpartum assessments exhibited less optimal Brazelton neurobehavioral assessment scores than neonates of non-depressed mothers or neonates born to mothers who exhibited symptoms of depression during only the prepartum or only during the postpartum assessments. Taken together these findings suggest that neonatal behavior is influenced not just by the presence but also by the timing and duration of maternal depression symptoms.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental and Educational Psychology