Depressed Moms May Trigger Infant Night Waking

Maternal depression and dysfunctional cognition impacts behavior at bedtime, affects infant sleep

TUESDAY, April 17 (HealthDay News) -- Maternal depression and dysfunctional cognition impacts mothers' behavior at bedtime and may affect infant sleep, according to a study published online April 17 in Child Development.

Douglas M. Teti, Ph.D., and Brian Crosby, Ph.D., of Pennsylvania State University in University Park, investigated the association between maternal depressive symptoms, dysfunctional cognitions, and infant night waking among 45 1- to 24-month old infants and their mothers. Three mediational models were examined (one mother-driven and two infant-driven) to clarify the association. The mother-driven model suggested that maternal depressive symptoms and dysfunctional cognitions about infant sleep impacted mothers' behavior at bedtime and nighttime and thereby predicted infant night time waking. The infant-driven models suggested that infant night waking impacted nighttime maternal behavior and thereby predicted depressive symptoms or dysfunctional cognitions.

The researchers found stronger support for the mother-driven model, which was further supported by qualitative observations from video recordings.

"Although we found greater support for mothers' behavior explaining the relation between depressive symptoms and infant night wakings, it's likely that both infants and parents influence infant sleep," Teti said in a statement. "This helps us better understand what factors influence infants' sleep in homes in which mothers are depressed."

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