Depressive Symptoms Effect Parenting
> 3/8/2006 2:42:50 PM

By surveying nearly 5,000 new mothers from over 15 different pediatric care sites around the country, a new study by researchers from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Columbia University has mapped for the first time the effects of post-partum depression on parenting behaviors. Data from the study showed that nearly 18% of new mothers experience some symptoms of depression.

Results from the study showed that 43.8 percent of mothers with depressive symptoms were likely to be breastfeeding at two to four months post partum compared to 56.9 percent of mothers who did not have depressive symptoms. At two to four months following birth, 87.4 percent of mothers with depressive symptoms were likely to play with their infants at least once a day compared to 91.9 percent of mothers without symptoms, and 22.4 percent of mothers with depressive symptoms were likely to show their children books compared to 28.2 percent without.

These results illustrate the effect that depression, and specifically post-partum depression, can have on the way that mothers bond with their newborns. "These symptoms clearly have an unfavorable impact on a motherís parenting practices, particularly those that involve active engagement with the child. Our results highlight the importance of screening new mothers for depressive symptoms," said Cynthia Minkovitz, MD, MPP, corresponding author of the study.

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