Description: If you have even a passing interest in infant development you have likely previously run across concerns about post-partum depression. If so (or if not) consider this question. What is it about material anxiety and depression that potentially results in negative developmental outcomes for the infants of those mothers? Yes, of course it likely has something to do with sub-optimal levels of maternal engagement or attentiveness but how does that influence infant/child developmental outcomes? Think about that and then read the article linked below for a a look at something you may not have factored into your answer.
Source: Baby’s Heart Rate Reflects Mom’s Mental Health, Robert Preidt, HealthDay News, U.S. News and World Reports.
Date: September 22, 2020
It is most certainly true that a parent who is depressed may not engage with their infant as consistently in ways that will promote their social, emotional, and cognitive development. What you may not have factored in is the stress the infant may experience when their engagement overtures (looking, snuggling, grasping, crying) do not result in more contact. The higher heart rate indicated in the linked article in such parent infant situations could reflect an infant stress reaction. We know a LOT about the negative impact of routinely elevated stress levels in adults and it would be worthwhile to consider their impact on short and linger term infant development. As well, this study links to others that look at pre-natal exposures to maternal stress.
Questions for Discussion:
- What ways might parental inattention due to depression or anxiety impact the development of young infants?
- What sorts of screening steps might be important to consider in relation to this issue?
- How might we understand stress in young infants, given the limited nature of their cognitive ability?
References (Read Further):
Haley, D. W., & Stansbury, K. (2003). Infant stress and parent responsiveness: Regulation of physiology and behavior during still‐face and reunion. Child development, 74(5), 1534-1546. Link
Neamah, H. H., Sudfeld, C., McCoy, D. C., Fink, G., Fawzi, W. W., Masanja, H., … & Fawzi, M. C. S. (2018). Intimate partner violence, depression, and child growth and development. Pediatrics, 142(1). Link
Silberman, D. M., Acosta, G. B., & Zubilete, M. A. Z. (2016). Long-term effects of early life stress exposure: Role of epigenetic mechanisms. Pharmacological Research, 109, 64-73. Link
Entringer, S., Buss, C., Swanson, J. M., Cooper, D. M., Wing, D. A., Waffarn, F., & Wadhwa, P. D. (2012). Fetal programming of body composition, obesity, and metabolic function: the role of intrauterine stress and stress biology. Journal of nutrition and metabolism, 2012. Link
Charil, A., Laplante, D. P., Vaillancourt, C., & King, S. (2010). Prenatal stress and brain development. Brain research reviews, 65(1), 56-79. Link
Kapoor, A., Dunn, E., Kostaki, A., Andrews, M. H., & Matthews, S. G. (2006). Fetal programming of hypothalamo‐pituitary‐adrenal function: prenatal stress and glucocorticoids. The Journal of physiology, 572(1), 31-44. Link
Kinney, D. K., Munir, K. M., Crowley, D. J., & Miller, A. M. (2008). Prenatal stress and risk for autism. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 32(8), 1519-1532. Link
Glover, V., O’connor, T. G., & O’Donnell, K. (2010). Prenatal stress and the programming of the HPA axis. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 35(1), 17-22. Link