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Maternal trauma but not perinatal depression predicts infant-parent attachment

Galbally, M.ORCID: 0000-0003-3909-1918, Watson, S.J.ORCID: 0000-0001-7228-3490, van IJzendoorn, M.H., Tharner, A., Luijk, M. and Lewis, A.J.ORCID: 0000-0002-2519-7976 (2021) Maternal trauma but not perinatal depression predicts infant-parent attachment. Archives of Women's Mental Health .

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Understanding if maternal depression is a predictor of infant-parent attachment classification is important to furthering knowledge about the early pathways and predictors of socio-emotional development. Yet few studies that have utilised the Strange Situation Procedure, the gold standard for measurement of infant-parent attachment, have examined antenatal depression as a predictor of attachment, and none has also included a measure of maternal trauma. This study uses data on 224 women recruited in early pregnancy and followed up until 12 months postpartum. Maternal depression was measured in pregnancy using the Structured Clinical Interview for the DSM and repeat Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale as well as Stressful Life Events scale across pregnancy and postpartum including items on domestic violence. A past history of trauma was measured using the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire. Attachment was measured using the Strange Situation Procedure (SSP) at 12 months postpartum. We found that maternal depression was not associated with insecure or disorganized attachment. However, a maternal history of childhood trauma and current domestic violence both predicted insecure-avoidant attachment at 12 months, whereas increased number of stressful life events prior to conception and in pregnancy was associated with insecure-resistant attachment. Neither trauma, past or current, nor depression predicted disorganized attachment. In the first study to have included measures of antenatal depression, maternal childhood trauma, and current stressful events as predictors of infant attachment measured using the SSP, we found maternal experiences of past and current trauma but not depression were significant predictors of infant-parent attachment security.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Psychology, Counselling, Exercise Science and Chiropractic
Publisher: Springer Nature
Copyright: © 2021 Crown
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