Infant Mental Health for the Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

Maternal Depression
Depression in parents hurts kids  Depressed parents often have decreased appropriate caregiving behaviors, may be more negative and intrusive with parenting, have less positive attitudes with infant, and a more negative perspective about infant. Depressed parents may engage in little self-care making them less emotionally and physically available and sensitive to their babies needs. All of this negatively impacts an infants social-emotional development including less social interaction, less object interaction, attachment issues,  and language and cognitive problems. Fathers depression negatively affects parenting behaviors. Postpartum depression generally 'peaks' between six weeks and three months post-delivery (Gaynes et al, 2005). If a parent is hurting from depression, their infant is likely depression affected, too. So both infant and parent need support and intervention. 

For infants of mothers who were treated with antipsychotics during pregnancy, there may be signs of withdrawal including abnormal muscle tone, irritability, breathing trouble, sleeping issues, and feeding issues. In some infants, these signs may not appear until one month of age or so.

References and Resources:

Beck Depression Inventory:

Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale:

Gaynes, B., et al. (2005). Perinatal Depression: Prevalence, Screening Accuracy, and Screening Outcomes. AHRQ Publication.

Shah, P., Muzik. M., & Rosenblum, K. (2011). Optimizing the early parent-child relationship: Windows of opportunity for parents and pediatricians. Current Problems in Pediatrics and Adolescent Health Care, 41: 183-187.

Sparrow, J. (2011). Pediatricians' role in supporting parents as they care for infants and young children. Current Problems in Pediatrics and Adolescent Health Care, 41: 207-209.

Smith, T. & Kipnis, G. (2012). Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders Program. MCN: The American Journal of Maternal/Child Health, 37: 80-87.