Maternal depressive symptoms at 2 to 4 months post partum and early parenting practices

Kathryn Taaffe McLearn, Cynthia S. Minkovitz, Donna M. Strobino, Elisabeth Marks, William Hou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

192 Scopus citations


Objective: To determine whether maternal depressive symptoms, reported when infants are 2 to 4 months old, are associated with mothers' early parenting practices. Design: Secondary data analyses collected from the National Evaluation of Healthy Steps for Young Children. Data sources included newborn enrollment questionnaires and parent interviews when infants were 2 to 4 months old. Maternal depressive symptoms were assessed using the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale. Setting: Twenty-four pediatric practices across the United States. Participants: A total of 5565 families enrolled in Healthy Steps; 4874 mothers (88%) completed 2- to 4-month interviews and provided Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale data; 17.8% of mothers reported having depressive symptoms. Main Outcome Measures: Ten parenting practices assessed in 3 domains: safety (sleep position and lowering water temperature), feeding (cereal, water, or juice; continuing breastfeeding), and practices to promote child development (showing books, playing with infant, talking to infant, and following 2 or more routines). Results: Mothers with and without depressive symptoms reported similar uses of safety and feeding practices. Mothers with depressive symptoms had reduced odds of continuing breastfeeding (adjusted odds ratio [AOR], 0.73; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.61-0.88), showing books (AOR, 0.81; 95% CI, 0.68-0.97), playing with the infant (AOR, 0.70; 95% CI, 0.54-0.90), talking to the infant (AOR, 0.74; 95% CI, 0.63-0.86), and following routines (AOR, 0.61; 95% CI, 0.52-0.72). Conclusion: Maternal depressive symptoms are common in early infancy and contribute to unfavorable parenting practices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)279-284
Number of pages6
JournalArchives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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