Maternal depression is associated with mother–infant interaction in preterm infants


Riikka Korja, Psych. Lic., Pediatric Research Unit, Turku University Hospital/TYKS, Vähä-Hämeenkatu 1 A 3, 20540 Turku, Finland. Tel: +358-50-5935292 | Fax: +358-2-3132412 | Email:


Aim: The purpose of this study was to assess the prevalence and the background factors of maternal depressive symptoms and their relation to the quality of mother–infant interaction in a group of preterm infants and their mothers.

Methods: The signs of maternal depression were evaluated in 125 mothers of very preterm infants (birth weight ≤ 1500 g or < 32 gestational weeks) at 6 months of infant's corrected age using Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS). The association between maternal depressive symptoms and the quality of mother–infant interaction as assessed by the parent child early relational assessment method (PCERA) method was studied at 6 and 12 months of corrected age in 32 preterm infants who were their mothers' firstborn infants and singletons.

Results: The prevalence of depression assessed by EPDS in mothers of very preterm infants was 12.6%. Most interestingly, the number of postnatal signs of depression associated negatively with the quality of the maternal interaction behaviour with their preterm infants.

Conclusions: This study suggests that maternal depression may be a risk factor in the development of the mother–infant relationship between preterm infants and their mothers. Therefore, it would be important to identify signs of depression in mothers of preterm infants to offer early support.