Preventive Intervention for Infants
of Low-Income Depressed Mothers

This longitudinal investigation evaluates the relative efficacy of two theoretically-informed approaches to preventing maladptation, a depressotypic developmental organization, and emergent psychopathology in young offspring of low-income depressed mothers. Research participants include infants and their mothers with a current major depressive disorder and 65 demographically comparable infants and their mothers with no lifetime history of metal disorder. All families are at or below the federal poverty level. Depressed mothers and their infants are randomly assigned to 1 of 3 treatment conditions: 1) Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT) for 4 months followed by an attention control for 8 months; 2) IPT for 4 months followed by Infant–Parent Psychotherapy (IPP) for 8 months; and 3) Enhanced Community Standard (ECS) treatment for depression, involving facilitated referrals for standard interventions in the community.

Baseline assessments will be conducted when infants are 12 months old, with subsequent re-assessments when infants are 14, 16, 24, and 36 months of age. Assessments measure three major areas: 1) Maternal depressive symptomatology and Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) diagnosis, social role functioning, support, and home contextual features; 2) the quality of the mother-child relationship and affective features of parenting; and 3) child functioning, stage-salient issues, and stress reactivity. Longitudinal comparisons of the two active preventive intervention groups (IPT/IPP) with the ECS and non-disordered groups will be used to determine: 1) whether IPT and IPT/IPP are efficacious in reducing maternal depressive symptomatology and MDD relapse through the child’s age of four; 2) whether treatment targeted on maternal depression is sufficient to alter the developmental course in offspring; and 3) whether intervention directly focused on the mother-child relationship also is necessary to promote positive outcomes and reduce risk for maladaptation and psychopathology in young offspring of depressed mothers.

Sheree L. Toth, Fred A. Rogosch, Dante Cicchetti

Special Thanks To Our Funder
National Institute of Mental Health

Banner Photo Credits: Left Photo © 2005 Anissa Thompson -, Center Photo by Zheng Xue Ping, Right Photo by Paolo Milanesi