Impact of maternal depression on pregnancies and on early attachment

Eszter Lefkovics, Ildikó Baji, János Rigó

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

42 Citations (Scopus)


The relatively high prevalence and duration of depression in the prenatal and postpartum periods reinforce the need for better understanding of maternal depression. The purpose of this article is to explore the main effects of depression to pregnancies' outcome and to early attachment reviewing research from the last decade and to find the best way to prevent the negative effects of maternal depression to infants. Recent studies have reported significant associations between maternal depression and several adverse obstetric, fetal, and neonatal outcomes. Antenatal depression has been associated with shorter gestation and lower birth weight, with consequences for infant development. A number of studies have demonstrated an association between prenatal depression and attachment difficulties, which seems to play an important mediating role in the development of further adverse outcomes for children. This review reveals some potential risks of untreated depression during the antenatal and postnatal periods, with possibly significant implications for practice and further research. Considering the high prevalence of depression, antenatal detection of depressive symptoms and intervention before childbirth has huge importance in prevention. Early interventions also may need to focus on mother-infant interactions as a key factor of later child development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)354-365
Number of pages12
JournalInfant Mental Health Journal
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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