Evidence from animal research has revealed that less maternal care results in disturbed emotionality in the offspring. In the present study, the long-term impact of maternal responsiveness and stimulation during early mother-child interaction on depressive psychopathology was examined until adulthood. Data are from an epidemiological cohort study of the long-term outcome of early risk factors assessed at birth. At age 3 months, mothers and infants were videotaped during a nursing and playing situation. Maternal responsiveness and stimulation as well as infant responsiveness were evaluated by trained raters. At age 19 years, 314 participants (145 males, 169 females) were characterized on measures of depression through interview and questionnaire. In addition, measures of depression and anxiety were available from assessments in childhood. Results indicated that less maternal stimulation during early interaction was associated with a higher risk of depression in the offspring until the age of 19 years. In addition, children of less stimulating mothers showed more depressive symptoms at age 19 years and displayed more anxiety and depressive symptoms between the ages of 4.5 and 15 years. In contrast, maternal responsiveness was unrelated to children's outcome. In accordance with findings from animal research, the present study provides first longitudinal evidence in humans of a continuous and long-term influence of early maternal interaction behavior on the offspring's psychological adjustment until adulthood. The results suggest that the amount of maternally initiated contact behavior in a very early developmental stage may be crucial for children's mental health, regardless of child and maternal responsiveness.
"This study provides further evidence of the need for intervention for mother-preterm infant dyads to ensure that developmental outcomes are met for these vulnerable infants. More recent developmental studies have shown that the impact of the quality of interaction between the mother-infant dyad extend into middle childhood and adulthood, affecting behavioral outcomes in school and adult mental health status (Easterbrooks, Bureau, & Lyons-Ruth, 2012; Schmid et al., 2011). "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: While premature infants have a high need for positive interactions, both infants and their mothers are challenged by the infant's biological immaturity. This randomized clinical trial of 198 premature infants born at 29-34 weeks gestation and their mothers examined the impact of the H-HOPE (Hospital to Home: Optimizing the Infant's Environment) intervention on mother-premature infant interaction patterns at 6-weeks corrected age (CA). Mothers had at least 2 social environmental risk factors such as minority status or less than high school education. Mother-infant dyads were randomly assigned to the H-HOPE intervention group or an attention control group. H-HOPE is an integrated intervention that included (1) twice-daily infant stimulation using the ATVV (auditory, tactile, visual, and vestibular-rocking stimulation) and (2) four maternal participatory guidance sessions plus two telephone calls by a nurse-community advocate team. Mother-infant interaction was assessed at 6-weeks CA using the Nursing Child Assessment Satellite Training-Feeding Scale (NCAST, 76 items) and the Dyadic Mutuality Code (DMC, 6-item contingency scale during a 5-min play session). NCAST and DMC scores for the Control and H-HOPE groups were compared using t-tests, chi-square tests and multivariable analysis. Compared with the Control group (n=76), the H-HOPE group (n=66) had higher overall NCAST scores and higher maternal Social-Emotional Growth Fostering Subscale scores. The H-HOPE group also had significantly higher scores for the overall infant subscale and the Infant Clarity of Cues Subscale (p<0.05). H-HOPE dyads were also more likely to have high responsiveness during play as measured by the DMC (67.6% versus 58.1% of controls). After adjustment for significant maternal and infant characteristics, H-HOPE dyads had marginally higher scores during feeding on overall mother-infant interaction (β=2.03, p=0.06) and significantly higher scores on the infant subscale (β=0.75, p=0.05) when compared to controls. In the adjusted analysis, H-HOPE dyads had increased odds of high versus low mutual responsiveness during play (OR=2.37, 95% CI=0.97, 5.80). Intervening with both mother and infant is a promising approach to help premature infants achieve the social interaction patterns essential for optimal development.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Experiences during critical periods, such as the neonatal and adolescence, play a critical role in determining adult stress-coping behavior. Based on the aforementioned we developed an experimental protocol, which included a neonatal experience and a social stress during adolescence. The serotonergic system is known as an important modulator of coping ability and, in general, emotional balance in both normal and pathological states, such as depression and anxiety, for which females are more vulnerable. Thus in the present work we used female rats and determined 5-HT, 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid (5-HIAA), and 5-hydroxytryptamine receptor type 1A (5-HT(1A)) receptor levels in the prefrontal cortex (PFC) and the amygdala (AMY). During postnatal days 10-13 (PND 10-13) rat pups were exposed to a T-maze, one arm of which lead to the mother. One group of animals was allowed contact with the mother (rewarded-receiving expected reward (RER)), whereas the other was denied the expected reward (DER). High performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) analysis revealed that in both the PFC and in AMY, adult RER animals had higher basal 5-HT levels. Furthermore, in the AMY of this group of animals, higher levels of 5-HT(1A) receptors were detected by Western blot analysis. In adulthood rats were exposed to the Forced Swimming Test/Stress (FST/S). RER animals not exposed to the adolescent stress exhibited longer immobility time during both the first and second day of FST. Corticosterone levels following the FST fell faster in the DER animals. Adolescent stress affected the responses to the adult FSS only in the DER animals, which had decreased 5-HT in the AMY and increased immobility time on both days of the FST, compared with the DER, not stressed in adolescence. The phenotype of the DER animals is in line with the "match-mismatch" hypothesis, which states that if two events during critical periods of life "match" in being mildly stressful, their interaction can be adaptive.
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