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Maternal Depression and Infant Development: Theory and Current Evidence

Miklush, Lisa PhD, RNC, CNS; Connelly, Cynthia D. PhD, RN, FAAN

MCN: The American Journal of Maternal/Child Nursing: November/December 2013 - Volume 38 - Issue 6 - p 369–374
doi: 10.1097/NMC.0b013e3182a1fc4b
Feature: CE Connection

Maternal depression (MD) is a condition that has wide-ranging effects on the woman, her family, and the broader global society. It is generally agreed that MD is associated with untoward effects on the developmental trajectory of offspring. The aim of this article is to review the historical and theoretical underpinnings informing current thought linking MD with infant development, and to highlight some of the neuroendocrine and epigenetic processes related to MD and its sequelae. A broad understanding of the association between MD and infant developmental outcomes can inform nursing care of the childbearing family.

An in-depth examination of how maternal depression has been seen through the ages, and the evidence for how it affects the development of the infant.

Lisa Miklush is an Assistant Professor, Gonzaga University, Spokane, WA. She can be reached via e-mail at

Cynthia D. Connelly is Professor and Director of Nursing Research, University of San Diego, San Diego, CA.

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

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© 2013 Wolters Kluwer Health | Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.