Postnatal Depression and Infant Health Practices Among High-Risk Women

Original Paper


Women’s postnatal depressive symptoms have been associated with many adverse outcomes for children. The current study examined the frequency association with relative risk between postnatal depressive symptoms and mothers’ use of preventative infant health practices. The study used the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) and Parental Health and Depression Questionnaire (PHDQ) to identify women’s depressive symptoms in a prospective longitudinal sample of 134 high-risk non-white mothers receiving well-baby health services. Unadjusted frequency comparisons examined the effect of women’s postnatal depressive symptoms on infant outcomes. Results found that compared to 60 women without postnatal depressive symptoms, 74 women with symptoms engaged in significantly fewer well-child health-visits, were less likely to use home safety devices or place their infants in the preferred back-to-sleep position, and did not complete immunizations. Depressed women were also more likely to lack knowledge of nurturing and sensitive parenting, use corporal punishment and inappropriate foods, and to show poor parenting practices. These findings provide additional supportive evidence that more efforts are needed to identify and assess women’s depressive symptoms to promote health and safety of young children. Methodological limitations and recommendations for future research are addressed.


Postnatal depression Infant health practices Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) Parenting practices Injury-prevention measures 



This study was supported by partial funding derived from the collaborative partnership between the National Catholic School of Social Service, The Catholic University of America; Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy Institute of the Catholic Community Services, and Perry Family Health Center of Providence Hospital in Washington, DC, which created the original parent mentoring service project and was funded by a grant from Department of Education, Office of Educational Research and Improvement (R305T010754-02). On behalf of the project partnership, the author expresses gratitude to the participating families and collaborative partners.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National Catholic School of Social ServiceThe Catholic University of AmericaWashingtonUSA

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