Postnatal depression: investigating vulnerability in new mothers and their infants

Project: Other projectOther internal award

Project Details


Postnatal depression affects approximately 20% of new mothers. It has high clinical importance because it causes significant distress to the woman, and in severe cases can lead to suicide. In addition, postnatal depression can disrupt the mother’s caregiving capacity which has a negative impact on early child development and increases the child’s risk of developing long-term mental health difficulties.

Using novel data collected at psychological, behavioural and biological levels, Kate’s research will test the effect of postnatal depression on three factors associated with positive caregiving and early child development outcomes: (1) the parent’s reflective capacity and drive to attribute mental states to their infant, (2) ‘synchrony’ in parent-child interaction, and (3) the hormone oxytocin. This research will deepen our understanding about how mental health vulnerability develops and is maintained in the postnatal period, and how to identify which children of women with postnatal depression are most at risk of transgenerational difficulties. The findings will have clinical implications for improving screening of risk and treatment for postnatal depression.
Effective start/end date25/01/2224/01/23