Date Approved

2010

Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Psychology

Committee Member

Alissa Huth-Bocks, PhD, Chair

Committee Member

Carol Freedman-Doan, PhD

Committee Member

Dean Lauterbach, PhD

Abstract

Difficulties with emotion and physiological regulation (i.e., the ability to modulate or regulate arousal and physiological experiences) in infancy have been linked to significant social-emotional problems in childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. Mothers play a critical role in helping their infants regulate. Often mothers’ experiences of childhood maltreatment and/or domestic violence leave them with limited emotional availability and caregiving ability. Subsequently, their infants may have difficulty learning self-regulation, which may compromise future social-emotional development. This study examined the relationships among mothers’ experiences of childhood maltreatment and adult domestic violence and their infants’ crying, feeding, and sleeping difficulties at 3 months of age. One hundred and twenty economically-disadvantaged pregnant women, aged 18 to 42 years, were recruited from the community via fliers advertising a longitudinal study about parenting. Data were collected during interviews with the women when they were in their third trimester of pregnancy and at 3 months postpartum. Results revealed that greater severity of maternal childhood maltreatment was related to greater severity of domestic violence during pregnancy; however, no significant associations were found between mothers’ severity of childhood and adulthood interpersonal trauma and infant regulation. Thus, there was no support for domestic violence as a mediator between mothers’ childhood maltreatment and infant regulation. Additionally, exploratory analyses revealed unique relationships between types of childhood maltreatment and types of domestic violence and infant regulation domains. Results from this study have important clinical implications related to working with mother-infant dyads, such as in the areas of prevention and intervention programs.

Included in

Psychology Commons

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