Parental psychopathology, child-rearing practices and infant maladjustment


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Title Parental psychopathology, child-rearing practices and infant maladjustment
Period 04 / 2002 - 04 / 2006
Status Completed
Research number OND1289083
Data Supplier Database Zorg Onderzoek Nederland ZON


This study addresses two main questions: (1) What is the relation between parental psychopathology and infant maladjustment and psychopathology? (2) Which are the predictors of parental child-rearing practices before the child is born and what is the effect of child-rearing on infant maladjustment and psychopathology 6 months after birth? Population-based information about infant psychopathology and its determinants and consequences is notably lacking. The few relevant studies incorporated only small samples, selective samples of referred children, and often started after the onset of problems. Other studies indicated that there is an association between maternal depression and infant maladjustment. However, it remains unclear how parental depression, parent-child interaction, adverse conditions and genetic/biological factors interact to influence the infant's adjustment. To overcome the flaws of comparable studies, the proposed longitudinal population-based study will assess mothers as well as infants from 6 months pregnancy to 6 months after birth of the child. Central questions are organized into 2 sections concerning (1) parental psychopathology and (2) child-rearing practices. Specifically, the first section addresses questions about (a) the influence of maternal psychopathology to infants' maladjustment, accounting for infant vulnerability, parental psychopathology, and environmental stress and support (Murray et al., 1996; Seifer & Dickstein, 1993), and (b) the disorder-specific relation between maternal disorder and infant maladjustment (Downey & Coyne, 1990), accounting for type, chronicity and severity of the disorder (Campbell et al., 1995). The second section determines (a) predictors of parental child-rearing practices before the child is born (e.g. childhood experiences of abuse), and (b) the relation between these practices and infants' problem behaviour (sleeping, feeding, crying) and psychopathology (regulative disorder, failure to thrive) at 6 months (Budd 1996; Campbell, 1996; Zeanah et al., 1997). Central idea is that a number of risk factors for infant maladjustment operate through their impact on parents' child-rearing practices. This population-based longitudinal study addresses the relation between parental psychopathology and infant maladjustment, and predictors of parental child-rearing practices and their effects in infant maladjustment 6 months after birth. Information on 3000 parent couples and their infants will be collected at 6 months pregnancy (T1), birth (T2), 8 weeks (T3) and 6 months after birth (T4). Questionnaire data will be obtained on parental mental health, stress and support, parenting experiences, attitudes and behaviours, and child vulnerability. Parents will be interviewed on traumatic childhood experiences (T1), and a screen-positive sample of 1000 mothers on psychiatric disorder (T1, T4). These are complemented by observations of infant vulnerability (T2) and parenting (T4). The study results enable the fine-tuning of available preventive interventions through identification of specific high-risk groups of mothers and children, and mental health-related and social factors, child-rearing attitudes and practices most amenable to change.

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Project leader Dr. A.A.M. Crijnen


D23350 Psychiatry, clinical psychology
D23362 Pediatrics
D24200 Health education, prevention
D52000 Educational theory

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