Childhood experiences of maltreatment, reflective functioning and attachment in adolescent and young adult mothers: Effects on mother-infant interaction and emotion regulation.Child Abuse Negl. 2019 07; 93:277-290.CA
Maternal childhood experiences of maltreatment affect parenting and have consequences for a child's social-emotional development. Adolescent mothers have a higher frequency of a history of maltreatment than adult mothers. However few studies have analyzed the interactions between adolescent mothers with a history of childhood maltreatment and their infants.
The aim of the study was to examine the effect of maternal childhood experiences of maltreatment on mother-infant emotion regulation at infant 3 months, considering both infant and mother individual emotion regulation and their mutual regulation.
Participants were 63 adolescent and young adult mother-infant dyads recruited at a hospital.
The mothers were administered the Adult Attachment Interview to evaluate reflective functioning and attachment and the Childhood Experiences of Care and Abuse was used to evaluate maternal childhood experiences of maltreatment. Mother-infant interactions were coded with a modified version of the Infant Caregiver Engagement Phases.
Dyads with mothers with childhood maltreatment (vs dyads with mothers with no maltreatment) spent more time in negative emotional mutual regulation (p = .009) and less time in positive and neutral mutual emotion regulation (p = .019). Cumulative maternal childhood experiences of maltreatment were associated positively with mother and infant negative states at individual and dyadic level and with the AAI scales of Passivity and Unresolved Trauma (p < .05). The effect of cumulative maternal childhood experiences of maltreatment on mother-infant emotion regulation was direct and not mediated by maternal attachment and reflective function.
Maternal childhood experiences of maltreatment increase the risk connected to early motherhood, affecting mother-infant emotion regulation.