Date Approved


Date Posted


Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department or School


Committee Member

Alissa Huth-Bocks, PhD, Chair

Committee Member

Dean Lauterbach, PhD

Committee Member

Heather Janisse, PhD


Research has shown that maternal depression can have serious physical health effects on the developing fetus as well as later cognitive, behavioral, and affective problems in children. One area of clinical significance is the effect of maternal depression across time, including the differential effects of depression on early child development during the transition to motherhood. The present study explored trajectories of maternal depression from pregnancy through 2 years postpartum and their relation to infant affect expression. Data for the study were collected as part of a larger 5-panel longitudinal study on women’s transition to motherhood. The present study will use data from the third trimester of pregnancy (T1) and 3 months (T2), 1 year (T3), and 2 years (T4) postpartum. The sample is composed of 120 primarily low-income women and is diverse in terms of ethnicity (62% minority), marital status (64% single), and maternal age(18–42 years, M = 26, SD = 5.7). Maternal depression was measured at T1 and T2 using the Edinburgh Postpartum Depression Scale (Cox et al., 1987; Wisner et al., 2002) and at T3 and T4 using the Beck Depression Inventory-II (Beck et al., 1996). Infant affect expression was assessed at T3 and T4 using coded observations from videotaped mother-infant free-play interactions. It was hypothesized that different subsamples or trajectories of maternal depression would emerge, having differential effects on infant affect expression at each time point. Results indicated that a 4-class model best fit the data, including stable-low, stable-high, increasing, and decreasing trajectories. These trajectories of depressive symptoms were not found to have differential associations with infant affect expression at age 1 or age 2. Results from this study further inform clinicians about possible patterns of maternal depression and aid in the planning of interventions directed at preventing or reducing cases of maternal depression and problematic child affect development.

Included in

Psychology Commons