The Relationship Among Maternal Psychopathology, Difficult Infant Temperament, And Maternal Perceptions of Infant Behavior
Grills, Katharine E.
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Research has demonstrated that maternal psychopathology can influence the development of temperament in infants. Maternal psychopathology relates to infant temperament two ways: 1) to the development of difficult temperament and 2) to maternal perceptions of temperament. The current study explores the relationship between maternal PTSD and depression and infant . temperament in a sample of mothers and their infants (n = 55). At 6 months postpartum a Still Face Procedure was performed and the Infant Behavior Questionnaire was given. At 15 months postpartum a Strange Situation task was performed. I proposed the following hypotheses: 1) maternal psychopathology will be associated w.ith easily distressed infant temperament, 2) maternal report will differ from observed reports of infant temperament, and 3) distressed infant temperament will be relatively stable over the first 2 years of life. The results only partially supported the hypotheses. Maternal psychopathology did not relate to distressed infant temperament. However, distressed infant temperament at 15 months did predict later diagnoses of maternal PTSD, suggesting that infant distress may affect susceptibility to the disorder. In addition, maternal report of infant temperament did not converge with observed reports, suggesting bias. However, this was not related to maternal psychopathology. Instead, biased maternal report predicted later diagnoses of maternal PTSD and depression, suggesting that inaccurate perceptions of infant temperament may be predictive of maternal psychopathology. Lastly, infant temperament remained stable over the first 2 years of life, indicating that distressed infant temperament develops regardless of maternal influence. These results imply that maternal psychopathology, infant temperament, and maternal perceptions of infant temperament may be related but that test relationships are complex and require further study.
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