[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The bond between a parent and an infant often appears to form effortlessly and intuitively, and this relationship is fundamental to infant survival and development. Parenting is considered to depend on specific brain networks that are largely conserved across species and in place even before parenthood. Efforts to understand the neural basis of parenting in humans have focused on the overlapping networks implicated in reward and social cognition, within which the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) is considered to be a crucial hub. This review examines emerging evidence that the OFC may be engaged in several phases of parent-infant interactions, from early, privileged orienting to infant cues, to ongoing monitoring of interactions and subsequent learning. Specifically, we review evidence suggesting that the OFC rapidly responds to a range of infant communicative cues, such as faces and voices, supporting their efficient processing. Crucially, this early orienting response may be fundamental in supporting adults to respond rapidly and appropriately to infant needs. We suggest a number of avenues for future research, including investigating neural activity in disrupted parenting, exploring multimodal cues, and consideration of neuroendocrine involvement in responsivity to infant cues. An increased understanding of the brain basis of caregiving will provide insight into our greatest challenge: parenting our young.
Social neuroscience 11/2013; 8(6):525-43. · 3.17 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The bond between a parent and an infant often appears to form effortlessly and intuitively, and this relationship is fundamental to infant survival and development. Parenting is considered to depend on specific brain networks that are largely conserved across species and in place even before parenthood. Efforts to understand the neural basis of parenting in humans have focused on the overlapping networks implicated in reward and social cognition, within which the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) is considered to be a crucial hub. This review examines emerging evidence that the OFC may be engaged in several phases of parent–infant interactions, from early, privileged orienting to infant cues, to ongoing monitoring of interactions and subsequent learning. Specifically, we review evidence suggesting that the OFC rapidly responds to a range of infant communicative cues, such as faces and voices, supporting their efficient processing. Crucially, this early orienting response may be fundamental in supporting adults to respond rapidly and appropriately to infant needs. We suggest a number of avenues for future research, including investigating neural activity in disrupted parenting, exploring multimodal cues, and consideration of neuroendocrine involvement in responsivity to infant cues. An increased understanding of the brain basis
of caregiving will provide insight into our greatest challenge: parenting our young.
Social Neuroscience 10/2013; 8(6):525-543. · 2.79 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: IMPORTANCE Some small studies suggest that maternal postnatal depression is a risk factor for offspring adolescent depression. However, to our knowledge, no large cohort studies have addressed this issue. Furthermore, only 1 small study has examined the association between antenatal depression and later offspring depression. Understanding these associations is important to inform prevention. OBJECTIVE To investigate the hypothesis that there are independent associations between antenatal and postnatal depression with offspring depression and that the risk pathways are different, such that the risk is moderated by disadvantage (low maternal education) with postnatal depression but not with antenatal depression. DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS Prospective investigation of associations between symptoms of antenatal and postnatal parental depression with offspring depression at age 18 years in a UK community-based birth cohort (Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children) with data from more than 4500 parents and their adolescent offspring. MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES Diagnosis of offspring aged 18 years with major depression using the International Classification of Diseases, 10th Revision. RESULTS Antenatal depression was an independent risk factor. Offspring were 1.28 times (95% CI, 1.08-1.51; P = .003) more likely to have depression at age 18 years for each standard deviation increase in maternal depression score antenatally, independent of later maternal depression. Postnatal depression was also a risk factor for mothers with low education, with offspring 1.26 times (95% CI, 1.06-1.50; P = .01) more likely to have depression for each standard deviation increase in postnatal depression score. However, for more educated mothers, there was little association (odds ratio, 1.09; 95% CI, 0.88-1.36; P = .42). Analyses found that maternal education moderated the effects of postnatal but not antenatal depression. Paternal depression antenatally was not associated with offspring depression, while postnatally, paternal depression showed a similar pattern to maternal depression. CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE The findings suggest that treating maternal depression antenatally could prevent offspring depression during adulthood and that prioritizing less advantaged mothers postnatally may be most effective.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To assess the impact of being born preterm or small for gestational age (SGA) on several adult outcomes.
We analyzed data for 4518 adult participants in 5 birth cohorts from Brazil, Guatemala, India, the Philippines, and South Africa.
In the study population, 12.8% of males and 11.9% of females were born preterm, and 26.8% of males and 22.4% of females were born term but SGA. Adults born preterm were 1.11 cm shorter (95% CI, 0.57-1.65 cm), and those born term but SGA were 2.35 cm shorter (95% CI, 1.93-2.77 cm) compared with those born at term and appropriate size for gestational age. Blood pressure and blood glucose level did not differ by birth category. Compared with those born term and at appropriate size for gestational age, schooling attainment was 0.44 years lower (95% CI, 0.17-0.71 years) in those born preterm and 0.41 years lower (95% CI, 0.20-0.62 years) in those born term but SGA.
Being born preterm or term but SGA is associated with persistent deficits in adult height and schooling, but is not related to blood pressure or blood glucose level in low- and middle-income settings. Increased postnatal growth is associated with gains in height and schooling regardless of birth status, but not with increases in blood pressure or blood glucose level.
The Journal of pediatrics 09/2013; · 4.02 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Household characteristics are important influences on the risk of child death. However, little is known about this influence in HIV-endemic areas. We describe the effects of household characteristics on children's risk of dying in rural South Africa.
We use data describing the mortality of children younger than 5 years living in the Agincourt health and socio-demographic surveillance system study population in rural northeast South Africa during the period 1994-2008. Using discrete time event history analysis we estimate children's probability of dying by child characteristics and household composition (other children and adults other than parents) (N = 924 818 child-months), and household socio-economic status (N = 501 732 child-months).
Children under 24 months of age whose subsequent sibling was born within 11 months experience increased odds of dying (OR 2.5; 95% CI 1.1-5.7). Children also experience increased odds of dying in the period 6 months (OR 2.1; 95% CI 1.2-3.6), 3-5 months (OR 3.0; 95% CI 1.5-5.9), and 2 months (OR 11.8; 95% CI 7.6-18.3) before another household child dies. The odds of dying remain high at the time of another child's death (OR 11.7; 95% CI 6.3-21.7) and for the 2 months following (OR 4.0; 95% CI 1.9-8.6). Having a related but non-parent adult aged 20-59 years in the household reduces the odds (OR 0.6; 95% CI 0.5-0.8). There is an inverse relationship between a child's odds of dying and household socio-economic status.
This detailed household profile from a poor rural setting where HIV infection is endemic indicates that children are at high risk of dying when another child is very ill or has recently died. Short birth intervals and additional children in the household are further risk factors. Presence of a related adult is protective, as is higher socio-economic status. Such evidence can inform primary health care practice and facilitate targeting of community health worker efforts, especially when covering defined catchment areas.
International Journal of Epidemiology 08/2013; · 6.98 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Infant vocalisations are amongst the most biologically salient sounds in the environment and can draw the listener to the infant rapidly in both times of distress and joy. A region of the midbrain, the periaqueductal gray (PAG), has long been implicated in the control of urgent, survival-related behaviours. To test for PAG involvement in the processing of infant vocalisations, we recorded local field potentials (LFPs) from macroelectrodes implanted in this region in four adults who had undergone Deep Brain Stimulation. We found a significant difference occurring as early as 49ms from sound onset in activity recorded from the PAG in response to infant vocalisations compared to constructed control sounds and adult and animal affective vocalisations. This difference was not present in recordings from thalamic electrodes implanted in three of the patients. Time frequency analyses revealed distinct patterns of activity in the PAG for the three sound categories. These results suggest that human infant vocalisations can be discriminated from other emotional or acoustically similar sounds early in the auditory pathway. We propose that this specific, rapid activity in response to infant vocalisations may reflect the initiation of a state of heightened alertness necessary to instigate protective caregiving.
Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience 05/2013; · 5.04 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Infant faces elicit early, specific activity in the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC), a key cortical region for reward and affective processing. A test of the causal relationship between infant facial configuration and OFC activity is provided by naturally occurring disruptions to the face structure. One such disruption is cleft lip, a small change to one facial feature, shown to disrupt parenting. Using magnetoencephalography, we investigated neural responses to infant faces with cleft lip compared with typical infant and adult faces. We found activity in the right OFC at 140 ms in response to typical infant faces but diminished activity to infant faces with cleft lip or adult faces. Activity in the right fusiform face area was of similar magnitude for typical adult and infant faces but was significantly lower for infant faces with cleft lip. This is the first evidence that a minor change to the infant face can disrupt neural activity potentially implicated in caregiving.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Risk of antenatal depression has been shown to be elevated in Southern Africa and can impact maternal and child outcomes, especially in the context of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). Brief screening methods may optimize access to care during pregnancy, particularly where resources are scarce. This research evaluated shorter versions of the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) to detect antenatal depression. This cross-sectional study at a large primary health care (PHC) facility recruited a consecutive series of 109 antenatal attendees in rural South Africa. Women were in the second half of pregnancy and completed the EPDS and Structured Clinical Interview for Depression (SCID). The recommended EPDS cutoff (≥13) was used to determine probable depression. Four versions, including the 10-item scale, seven-item depression, and novel three- and five-item versions developed through regression analysis, were evaluated using receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analysis. High numbers of women 51/109 (47 %) were depressed, most depression was chronic, and nearly half of the women were HIV positive 49/109 (45 %). The novel three-item version had improved positive predictive value (PPV) over the 10-item version and equivalent specificity to the seven-item depression subscale; the novel five-item provided the best overall performance in terms of ROC and Cronbach's reliability statistics and had improved specificity. The brevity, sensitivity, and reliability of the short and ultrashort versions could facilitate widespread community screening. The usefulness of the novel three- and five-item versions are underscored by the fact that sensitivity is important at first screening, while specificity becomes more important at higher levels of care. Replication in larger samples is required.
Archives of Women s Mental Health 04/2013; · 2.01 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: There is evidence that a young child's risk of dying increases following the mother's death, but little is known about the risk when the mother becomes very ill prior to her death. We hypothesized that children would be more likely to die during the period several months before their mother's death, as well as for several months after her death. Therefore we investigated the relationship between young children's likelihood of dying and the timing of their mother's death and, in particular, the existence of a critical period of increased risk.
Data from a health and socio-demographic surveillance system in rural South Africa were collected on children 0-5 y of age from 1 January 1994 to 31 December 2008. Discrete time survival analysis was used to estimate children's probability of dying before and after their mother's death, accounting for moderators. 1,244 children (3% of sample) died from 1994 to 2008. The probability of child death began to rise 6-11 mo prior to the mother's death and increased markedly during the 2 mo immediately before the month of her death (odds ratio [OR] 7.1 [95% CI 3.9-12.7]), in the month of her death (OR 12.6 [6.2-25.3]), and during the 2 mo following her death (OR 7.0 [3.2-15.6]). This increase in the probability of dying was more pronounced for children whose mothers died of AIDS or tuberculosis compared to other causes of death, but the pattern remained for causes unrelated to AIDS/tuberculosis. Infants aged 0-6 mo at the time of their mother's death were nine times more likely to die than children aged 2-5 y. The limitations of the study included the lack of knowledge about precisely when a very ill mother will die, a lack of information about child nutrition and care, and the diagnosis of AIDS deaths by verbal autopsy rather than serostatus.
Young children in lower income settings are more likely to die not only after their mother's death but also in the months before, when she is seriously ill. Interventions are urgently needed to support families both when the mother becomes very ill and after her death. Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary.
PLoS Medicine 03/2013; 10(3):e1001409. · 15.25 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: OBJECTIVE Understanding the origins of negative cognitive style could provide a means to prevent adult depression. Cognitive style is an important target for intervention because although it is not possible to remove the stress and adversities in people's lives, it may be possible to modify interpretation of such adversities through cognitive style. Children may develop a negative cognitive style through modeling the style of their mothers. However, findings have been inconsistent on the association. The authors tested the hypothesis that there is an independent association between maternal and offspring depressogenic cognitive style. METHOD Data from over 4,000 mothers and children from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children cohort study in the United Kingdom were used to investigate the association between maternal depressogenic cognitive style before the offspring's birth and the offspring's depressogenic cognitive style at age 18. RESULTS A positive association was observed between maternal and offspring cognitive styles: a one-standard-deviation increase in maternal depressogenic cognitive style score during pregnancy was significantly associated with a mean increase of 0.1 standard deviations in offspring depressogenic cognitive style score at age 18. This effect remained after adjusting for maternal and offspring depression and explained 21% of the association between maternal and offspring depression. CONCLUSIONS Although the mechanisms remain to be elucidated, the findings are consistent with the idea that a mother's cognitive style (irrespective of her depression status) influences that of her child. This suggests that interventions to improve a mother's cognitive style could help prevent her offspring from developing depression during adulthood.
American Journal of Psychiatry 01/2013; · 14.72 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: The objective was to examine the course and longitudinal associations of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and major depressive disorder (MDD) in mothers over the postpartum 2 years. METHOD: Using a prospective naturalistic design, 296 mothers recruited from a large community pool were assessed for GAD and MDD at 3, 6, 10, 14, and 24 months postpartum. Structured clinical interviews were used for diagnoses, and symptoms were assessed using self-report questionnaires. Logistic regression analyses were used to examine diagnostic stability and longitudinal relations, and latent variable modeling was employed to examine change in symptoms. RESULTS: MDD without co-occurring GAD, GAD without co-occurring MDD, and co-occurring GAD and MDD, displayed significant stability during the postpartum period. Whereas MDD did not predict subsequent GAD, GAD predicted subsequent MDD (in the form of GAD + MDD). Those with GAD + MDD at 3 months postpartum were significantly less likely to be diagnosis free during the follow-up period than those in other diagnostic categories. At the symptom level, symptoms of GAD were more trait-like than those of depression. CONCLUSIONS: Postpartum GAD and MDD are relatively stable conditions, and GAD is a risk factor for MDD but not vice versa. Given the tendency of MDD and GAD to be persistent, especially when comorbid, and the increased risk for MDD in mothers with GAD, as well as the potential negative effects of cumulative exposure to maternal depression and anxiety on child development, the present findings clearly highlight the need for screening and treatment of GAD in addition to MDD during the postpartum period.
Depression and Anxiety 01/2013; · 4.61 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Many children can be exposed to multiple adversities in low and middle-income countries (LMICs) placing them at potential risk of psychological problems. However, there is a paucity of research using large representative cohorts examining the psychological adjustment of children in school settings in these countries. Children's psychological adjustment has been shown to affect educational progress which is critical for their future. This study, based in a rural, socio-economically disadvantaged area of South Africa, aimed to examine the prevalence of children's psychological problems as well as possible risk and protective factors.
Rates of psychological problems in 10-12 year olds were examined using teacher- and child-report questionnaires. Data on children from 10 rural primary schools, selected by stratified random sampling, were linked to individual and household data from the Agincourt health and socio-demographic surveillance system collected from households over 15 years.
A total of 1,025 children were assessed. Teachers identified high levels of behavioural and emotional problems (41%). Children reported lower, but substantial rates of anxiety/depression (14%), and significant post-traumatic stress symptoms (24%); almost a quarter felt unsafe in school. Risk factors included being a second-generation former refugee and being from a large household. Protective factors highlight the importance of maternal factors, such as being more educated and in a stable partnership.
The high levels of psychological problems identified by teachers are a serious public health concern, as they are likely to impact negatively on children's education, particularly given the large class sizes and limited resources in rural LMIC settings. Despite the high levels of risk, a proportion of children were managing well and research to understand resilience could inform interventions.
PLoS ONE 01/2013; 8(6):e65041. · 3.73 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: There is substantial evidence for the links between poverty and both physical and mental health; but limited research on the relationship of physical and mental health problems exists in low- and middle-income countries. The objective of this paper is to evaluate the prevalence and co-morbidity of psychological distress among women with common physical diseases in a socio-economically disadvantaged urban area of South Africa.
Women enrolled in the Birth to twenty (Bt20) cohort study were evaluated for this paper. Bt20 was founded in 1990 and has followed more than 3,000 children and their caregivers since birth; this study evaluates the health of the caregivers (average age 44) of these children. Psychological distress was evaluated by administering the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-28) and we evaluated the presence of physical disease by self-report.
Forty percent of the sample presented with psychological distress using the GHQ scoring method. More than half of the women who reported a history of a physical disease, including diabetes, heart attack, asthma, arthritis, osteoporosis, epilepsy, and tuberculosis, reported psychological disorder. Presence of one physical disease was not associated with increased rates of psychological distress. However, women who reported two diseases had increased rates of psychological symptoms, and this upward trend continued with each additional physical disease reported (measured to five).
These data indicate high prevalence rates of co-morbid psychological distress among women with physical disease. This argues for the need of greater mental health support for women living with physical diseases.
PLoS ONE 01/2013; 8(10):e78803. · 3.73 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: An infant's cry is one of the most emotionally salient sounds in our environment. Depression is known to disrupt a mother's ability to respond to her infant, but it is not well-understood why such difficulties arise. One reason might be that depression disrupts the perceptual abilities necessary to interpret infant's affective cues. Given that musicians are known to have enhanced auditory perception, we assessed whether depression and previous musical training can impact on the ability to interpret distress in infant cries, as manipulated by changes in pitch. Depressed participants with musical training demonstrated better discriminative acuity of distress in infant cry bursts compared to those without. Non-depressed participants, with and without musical training, had levels comparable to musicians with depression. We suggest that previous musical training may act as a protective factor that maintains auditory perceptual abilities in the context of depression. These findings have potential implications for the development of novel training interventions to maintain sensitivity to infant vocal cues in individuals with postnatal depression. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved).
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Food ensures our survival and is a potential source of pleasure and general well-being. In order to survive, the human brain is required to optimize the resource allocation such that rewards are pursued when relevant. This means that food intake follows a similar cyclical time course to other rewards with phases related to expectation, consummation and satiety. Here we develop a multilevel model for the full cycle of eating behavior based on the evidence for the brain networks and mechanisms initiating, sustaining and terminating the various phases of eating. We concentrate on how the underlying reward mechanisms of wanting, liking and learning lead to how human food intake is governed by both hedonic and homeostatic principles. We describe five of the main processing principles controlling food intake: hunger and attentional signal processing; motivation-independent discriminative processing; reward representations; learning-dependent multimodal sensory representations and hedonic experience. Overall, the evidence shows that while human food intake is complex, we are making progress in understanding the underlying mechanisms and that the brain networks supporting the food pleasure cycle are remarkably similar to those underlying the processing of other rewards.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: There has been increasing research interest in parenting by anxious adults; however, little is known about anxiety-subtype effects, or effects of the context in which parenting is assessed.
Two groups of anxious mothers, social phobia (N = 50), generalised anxiety disorder (N = 38), and nonanxious controls (N = 62) were assessed with their 4.9-year-old children in three tasks: two presented threat specifically relevant to each maternal disorder, namely, a social threat task where the child had to give a speech, and a nonsocial threat task where the child had to explore potentially scary objects; the third was a nonthreat task (playing with play dough). Seven parenting dimensions were scored. Effects on parenting of maternal anxiety subgroup and task, and their interactions, were examined, as were effects of earlier child behavioural inhibition and currently manifest anxiety.
There were no parenting differences between maternal groups in the nonthreat play-dough task; parenting difficulties in the two anxious groups were principally evident in the disorder-specific challenge. Parenting differences between nonanxious and anxious mothers occurred independently of child characteristics. There was little evidence for particular forms of parenting difficulty being unique to maternal disorder.
Anxious mothers' parenting difficulties emerge when occurring under challenge, especially when this is disorder-specific. These effects should be considered in research and clinical practice.
Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 02/2012; 53(2):188-96. · 5.42 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Postnatal depression and anxiety have been shown to increase the risk of disturbances in mother-child interaction and child development. Research into mechanisms has focused on genetics and maternal behavior; maternal cognitions have received little attention. Our aim was to experimentally determine if worry and rumination in mothers with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and major depressive disorder (MDD), diagnosed in the postnatal 6 months, interfered with maternal responsiveness to their 10-month old infants. Mothers (N = 253: GAD n = 90; MDD n = 57; control n = 106) and their infants were randomized to either a worry/rumination prime (WRP) or a neutral prime (NP); mother-infant interactions were assessed before and after priming. Type of priming was a significant predictor of maternal cognitions, with WRP resulting in more negative thoughts, higher thought recurrence and more self-focus relative to NP across the entire sample. Interaction effects between group and priming were significant for two parenting variables: Compared with controls, WRP had a more negative impact on maternal responsiveness to infant vocalization for GAD, and to a lesser extent for MDD; WRP led to decreased maternal vocalization for GAD. Also, mothers with GAD used stronger control after the NP than WRP, as well as compared with other groups, and overall post-priming, their children exhibited lower emotional tone and more withdrawal. Across the entire sample, WRP was associated with increased child vocalization relative to NP. This study demonstrated that disturbances in maternal cognitions, in the context of postnatal anxiety and to a lesser degree depression, play a significant role in mother-child interaction. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved).
Journal of Abnormal Psychology 01/2012; · 4.86 Impact Factor