Maternal depression and infant temperament characteristics

Jacqueline M. McGrath, Kathie Records, Michael Rice

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

149 Scopus citations


One hundred-thirty-nine women participated in this longitudinal study from the third trimester of pregnancy through 8-months postpartum. Women completed depression scales at several time points and rated their infant's characteristics and childcare stress at 2- and 6-months postpartum. Mothers' reports of infant temperament were significantly different for depressed and non-depressed mothers, with depressed mothers reporting more difficult infants at both measurement points. These differences remained after controlling for histories of maternal abuse or prenatal anxiety, which occurred more often in the depressed mothers. There were no significant differences in childcare stress or perceived support between the groups. Infant temperament and childcare stress did not change over time. Recommendations for practice include consistent ongoing evaluations of the "goodness of fit" within the dyad and exploring interventions for depressed mothers that provide guidance about interactions with their infants and the appropriateness of the infant behaviors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)71-80
Number of pages10
JournalInfant Behavior and Development
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Depression
  • Infant
  • Maternal
  • Parenting
  • Stress
  • Temperament

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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