Thrasher Research Fund - Medical research grants to improve the lives of children

Project Details

Early Career

Status: Funded - Open

Mobile Device Assessment of Perinatal Depression's Effect on Dyadic Interaction and Child Development

Kunmi Sobowale, MD


BACKGROUND: Poor mother-child interaction resulting from maternal postpartum depression is a primary contributor to worse child motor, cognitive, language, and socio-emotional development and future development of mental illness GAP: Existing research and clinical care assessing the maternal-child interaction is hampered by the time taken to train assessors and code these interactions, logistical challenges of families coming into the clinic/lab or assessors going into their homes, and questionable data given dyads’ short, often one-shot interactions in unfamiliar settings and/or with unfamiliar interviewers. These challenges contribute to small and less diverse samples and less natural interactions which limit our understanding of the mother-child interaction and its effect on child development. HYPOTHESIS: Hypothesis 1: At 3 and 6 months, mothers with higher depressive symptoms will have fewer conversational turns per hour with their infants compared to mothers with minimal symptoms.; Hypothesis 2: Mothers with elevated depressive symptoms will use a narrower pitch range compared to mothers with minimal symptoms. METHODS: A prospective longitudinal study recruiting 100 pregnant women at the end of the third trimester patients with a prior history of depression, anxiety, trauma, or substance use disorder or with current elevated depressive symptoms, and their infants. RESULTS: Pending. IMPACT: This research may help elucidate important aspects of the mother-child interaction increase the risk of child behavioral problems and psychopathology in the context of perinatal depression. This approach may inform intervention development and reach to foster positive child developmental outcomes.

Supervising Institution:
University of California, Los Angeles

Nelson Freimer

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