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The Association between Prenatal Maternal Mental Health and Infant Memory and Language Outcomes

Reese, Emily Bridget-Polidore

Prenatal maternal depression and anxiety are associated with poor infant health, behavioral and achievement outcomes. The impacts of prenatal maternal mental health on the development of particular brain-based neurocognitive systems in children are less clear. This dissertation examines the association between prenatal maternal depression and anxiety and infant memory and language outcomes. 179 infant mother dyads were recruited in South Dakota. Ninety infants were followed at 9- and 15-months, and 89 were followed at 15- and 21-months of age. These data were used to understand more clearly the association between prenatal maternal depression and anxiety and changes in infant memory and language over the first two years of life. Additionally, by measuring the interaction between prenatal mental health and parenting and the direct association of parenting on changes in infant memory and language, we can better understand if the pathway between prenatal maternal mental health and infant memory and language is biological, social or both. Results demonstrated no significant direct association between prenatal maternal depression and anxiety symptoms and changes in infant memory or language from 9 to 21 months. The HOME language and literacy subscale was associated with changes in memory and language from 9 to 21 months; the HOME parental warmth subscale was associated with changes in language from 9 to 21 months. These results were independent of prenatal maternal social risk. Implications for additional screening measures, interventions, and considerations for future research are discussed.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Developmental Psychology
Thesis Advisors
Brooks-Gunn, Jeanne
Degree
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
July 28, 2014
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