Maternal depression and child growth in developing countries: A focus on the postnatal period

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Abstract

The prevalence of maternal depression and infant malnutrition is high in developing countries. Maternal depression can interfere with parenting behaviors and may negatively impact infant nutrition and growth. This review examines studies that look at the relationship between maternal depression and infant growth. A literature search was conducted in PubMed. Articles published that examined associations between maternal mental health, depression, and infant growth (ages 0-36 months) in developing countries were reviewed and summarized. Fifteen publications described 16 studies that met the above review criteria. Of these studies, nine examined the associations between maternal depression and infant growth and seven examined general maternal mental health symptoms and infant growth. Almost all studies of maternal depression/depressive symptoms found an association with poor infant growth (eight out of nine). Likewise, themajority of studies of general mental health symptoms and poor infant growth (five out of seven) reported a significant association. The review suggests that the relation between maternal depression and poor infant growth occurs at extremes of nutrition (e.g., underweight, stunting, or wasting) rather than along the nutrition continuum. Most publications examined relations with growth problems at the extremes; and nearly all (11/12) of these reported significant associations between maternal depression/mental health problems and some form of severe malnutrition (e.g., underweight, stunting, or wasting). Findings from two of the three publications that examined either mild malnutrition or growth along a continuum (e.g., weight-for-age or length-for-age on a continuous scale) reported no significant associations between maternal depression/depressive symptoms and growth. Inclusion of covariates in multivariable models generally attenuated the associations, emphasizing that there are many diverse determinants of maternal depression and infant growth. Only 3 of the 16 studies were longitudinal. The current review suggests that an association exists between maternal depression/depressive symptoms and poor infant growth in developing countries, especially when nutrition problems are severe (e.g., underweight, stunting, or wasting). Additional research is needed to better understand the relations between maternal depression/depressive symptoms and poor infant growth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationHandbook of Growth and Growth Monitoring in Health and Disease
PublisherSpringer New York
Pages2023-2046
Number of pages24
ISBN (Electronic)9781441917959
ISBN (Print)9781441917942
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)

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