Infants of Depressed Mothers Show Reduced Gaze Activity During Mother–Infant Interaction at 4 Months

Infancy, Wiley, ISSN 1532-7078

Volume 20, 4, 2015

DOI:10.1111/infa.12082, Dimensions: pub.1033696770,



  1. (1) University of Copenhagen, grid.5254.6, KU






Gaze is one of the main means of communication in young infants, and it has been shown to be important for subsequent socio-emotional and cognitive development. Maternal depression is a well-known risk factor for disrupting mother–infant interactions, but findings regarding gaze behavior in infants of depressed versus nondepressed mothers have been ambiguous. In this study, we examined gaze duration and activity in a sample of 27 infants of mothers with postpartum depression (PPD) and 49 infants of nondepressed mothers. Maternal depressive symptoms were assessed with the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale, and diagnoses were confirmed in clinical interview. Infant gaze was assessed during 4-month face-to-face interactions using continuous timed-event coding with high temporal resolution. Although we found no differences in gaze duration, infants of PPD mothers had both significantly less Gaze On and also less Gaze Off events. Findings suggest that PPD is related to reduced gaze activity during mother–infant interaction in 4-month-olds. This reduced activity may have long-term negative consequences for child development.


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