Postnatal depression and the original mother-child relationship: A prospective cohort study

McLaren, Lindsay, Kuh, Diana, Hardy, Rebecca and Mishra, Gita (2007) Postnatal depression and the original mother-child relationship: A prospective cohort study. Journal of Affective Disorders, 100 1-3: 211-219. doi:10.1016/j.jad.2006.10.021

Author McLaren, Lindsay
Kuh, Diana
Hardy, Rebecca
Mishra, Gita
Title Postnatal depression and the original mother-child relationship: A prospective cohort study
Journal name Journal of Affective Disorders   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0165-0327
Publication date 2007-06-01
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1016/j.jad.2006.10.021
Volume 100
Issue 1-3
Start page 211
End page 219
Total pages 9
Place of publication Amsterdam, Netherlands
Publisher Elsevier
Language eng
Formatted abstract

Previous studies assessing the role of early mother–child relationship as a risk factor for postnatal depression have been cross-sectional and/or retrospective in nature.


To examine associations between early mother–child relationship (assessed prospectively and retrospectively) and later risk of postnatal depression.


Dataset from national 1946 birth cohort study; 1137 women at age 51, completed a modified version of the Bromley Postnatal Depression Scale.

Compared with women who did not experience maternal separation or recalled moderate to best level of care, women who experienced maternal separation for 3.5 days or more in early childhood and who felt they received a low level of maternal care were at higher risk of postnatal depression (odds ratio (95% CI): 2.4 (1.51–3.79), p = 0.001); this relationship was robust to adjustment for current psychological status. Regular enuresis at age of 6 years (2.2 (1.01–4.90), p = 0.05), and lack of emotional closeness in current maternal relationship (1.6 (1.01–2.46), p = 0.04) were also associated with increased postnatal depression risk. Insufficient evidence was found for a link between other indicators of early behaviour and temperament (anxious, antisocial, or neurotic behaviour) and reported postnatal depression.


Postnatal depression was assessed retrospectively using self-report, introducing potential bias in recall.


Women who experienced early maternal separation and recalled the lowest level of maternal care had a particularly high risk of postnatal depression. In the treatment and management of postnatal depression, the results support health professionals in their consideration of the woman's past and current relationship with her mother; both actual events and the woman's perceptions of them.
Keyword postnatal depression
original mother-child relationship
prospective cohort
Lifetime Risk-Factors
Postpartum Depression
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status Unknown

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
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