Beliefs about infant regulation, early infant behaviors and maternal postnatal depressive symptoms

Muscat, Tracey, Obst, Patricia, Cockshaw, Wendell, & Thorpe, Karen (2014) Beliefs about infant regulation, early infant behaviors and maternal postnatal depressive symptoms. Birth, 41(2), pp. 206-213.

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Background: Young infants may have irregular sleeping and feeding patterns. Such regulation difficulties are known correlates of maternal depressive symptoms. Parental beliefs regarding their role in regulating infant behaviours also may play a role. We investigated the association of depressive symptoms with infant feeding/sleeping behaviours, parent regulation beliefs, and the interaction of the two.

Method: In 2006, 272 mothers of infants aged up to 24 weeks completed a questionnaire about infant behaviour and regulation beliefs. Participants were recruited from general medical practices and child health clinics in Brisbane, Australia. Depressive symptomology was measured using the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS). Other measures were adapted from the ALSPAC study.

Results: Regression analyses were run controlling for partner support, other support, life events, and a range of demographic variables. Maternal depressive symptoms were associated with infant sleeping and feeding problems but not regulation beliefs. The most important infant predictor was sleep behaviours with feeding behaviours accounting for little additional variance. An interaction between regulation beliefs and sleep behaviours was found. Mothers with high regulation beliefs were more susceptible to postnatal depressive symptoms when infant sleep behaviours were problematic.

Conclusion: Mothers of young infants who expect greater control are more susceptible to depressive symptoms when their infant presents challenging sleep behaviour.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 75007
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: infant behavior, maternal depression, postnatal period
DOI: 10.1111/birt.12107
ISSN: 1523-536X
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > PAEDIATRICS AND REPRODUCTIVE MEDICINE (111400)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > PSYCHOLOGY AND COGNITIVE SCIENCES (170000) > PSYCHOLOGY (170100) > Developmental Psychology and Ageing (170102)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Current > Schools > School of Psychology & Counselling
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc
Copyright Statement: This is the accepted version of the following article: Beliefs about infant regulation, early infant behaviors and maternal postnatal depressive symptoms, Birth, Volume 41, Issue 2, pages 206–213, June 2014, which has been published in final form at
Deposited On: 14 Aug 2014 02:16
Last Modified: 09 Jul 2015 19:44

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