Examining pathways linking maternal depressive symptoms in infancy to children's behavior problems: The role of maternal unresponsiveness and negative behaviors.Infant Behav Dev. 2017 11; 49:238-247.IB
The extent to which maternal depressive symptoms in the first 6 months of life is linked with internalizing and externalizing behaviors in childhood through specific insensitive maternal behaviors (unresponsive and overtly negative behaviors) was examined in a sample of 259 mother-infant dyads. In addition, the extent to which these paths were moderated by infant negative emotionality was also examined. Maternal depressive symptoms were assessed prenatally and when infants were 6 months and 2 years old. Maternal unresponsive and overtly negative behaviors and infant negative emotionality were observed when infants were 6 months old. Mothers reported on infant's internalizing and externalizing behaviors when infants were 2 years old. Maternal depressive symptoms were directly associated with higher internalizing behaviors; this path was not mediated by maternal behaviors. Depressive symptoms were unrelated to externalizing symptoms. Infant negative emotionality did not moderate these effects, but was related positively to overtly negative maternal behaviors, and temperament interacted with maternal depressive symptoms to predict unresponsive maternal behaviors. Results suggest that early maternal depressive symptoms, infant negative emotionality, and negative maternal behavior pose risk for infants' later internalizing behaviors, but the proposed moderated mediation model was not supported.