"We found that mothers with high depressive symptom levels are more likely to excessively worry about their infants at night than mothers with low symptom levels, and that such mothers were more likely to seek out their babies at night and spend more time with their infants than mothers with low symptom levels," said Douglas M. Teti, associate director of the Social Science Research Institute and professor of human development, psychology and pediatrics.
This in turn was associated with increased night waking in the infants of depressed mothers, compared to the infants of non-depressed mothers," Teti said. "Especially interesting about this was that when depressed mothers sought out their infants at night, their infants did not appear to be in need of parental help. They were either sound asleep or perhaps awake, but not distressed."
In contrast, mothers with low levels of worry and depressive symptoms rarely woke their infants out of a sound sleep and hardly went to their infants at night unless the infants were distressed.
The researchers also found evidence that infants who wake often during the night can lead to higher depressive symptoms in mothers, but the evidence for this infant-driven pathway was not as strong.
The two biggest concerns new parents report to pediatricians are sleeping problems and feeding problems. While Teti and colleague Brian Crosby, lecturer in psychology, do not discount parents' concerns for their child's well being, they note that there is probably no reason to wake a soundly sleeping baby if the child is not experiencing any distress. They emphasize that if parental depression or worry disrupts both the parents' and the infant's sleep, it could have negative consequences for the parent-child relationship over the long term. In situations like these, steps might be considered to help reduce parents' distress, they report in today's (Apr. 17) issue of Child Development.
"One has to examine the health of the family system and address the problem at that level," said Teti. "If frequent infant night waking is waking parents up every night and causing parental distress, there are established interventions to help babies learn how to develop self-regulated sleep."
However, if increased infant night waking is caused by distressed mothers waking their babies out of a sound sleep or keeping them up at night unnecessarily, other approaches might be considered. These include attempts to alleviate maternal depressive symptoms, reduce unnecessary worries about infant sleep behavior at night, encourage spousal support, and provide information to parents about the benefits of a good night's sleep for both the parent and the baby.
The researchers found mothers' depressive symptoms were significantly correlated with the mothers' feelings of helplessness and loss of control. Mothers' feelings of helplessness and loss of control, in turn, were related to close physical contact between mothers and babies, but were not related to night waking. Only mothers' nighttime behavior with their infants, not their behavior with their infants at bedtime correlated with infant night waking.
As part of the larger Study of Infants' Emergent Sleep Trajectories (SIESTA), Teti and Crosby collected data on 45 infants -- from one to 24 months -- and their parents over seven consecutive days, including an infant sleep diary that the mother kept. At the start of the week, the mothers also completed two surveys -- one looked at depressive symptoms, while the other measured mothers' worries about their infants when they woke up at night.
On the sixth day of data collection, researchers set up several video cameras -- one focused on where the baby slept, one focused on the door to the baby's room to see who was coming in and out of the room, and an additional one or two cameras focused on areas where the parent took the infant during any nighttime interventions. The cameras captured between 10 and 12 hours of video for each family, starting with the infant's bedtime.
What the researchers observed on the videos correlated with what the parents reported.
"In terms of understanding what predicts parenting at night, and how parenting at night affects children, it's important to examine parenting at night much more closely than we have," said Teti. "There's probably a lot going on at night that we need to understand, and we need to use actual observations of what parents are doing. We know very little about nighttime parenting."
The project is part of the SIESTA study, which was supported by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.
Victoria M. Indivero | EurekAlert!
Deep Brain Stimulation Provides Sustained Relief for Severe Depression
19.03.2019 | Universitätsklinikum Freiburg
AI study of risk factors in type 1 diabetes
06.03.2019 | University of Gothenburg
DESY and MPSD scientists create high-order harmonics from solids with controlled polarization states, taking advantage of both crystal symmetry and attosecond electronic dynamics. The newly demonstrated technique might find intriguing applications in petahertz electronics and for spectroscopic studies of novel quantum materials.
The nonlinear process of high-order harmonic generation (HHG) in gases is one of the cornerstones of attosecond science (an attosecond is a billionth of a...
Nano- and microtechnology are promising candidates not only for medical applications such as drug delivery but also for the creation of little robots or flexible integrated sensors. Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (MPI-P) have created magnetic microparticles, with a newly developed method, that could pave the way for building micro-motors or guiding drugs in the human body to a target, like a tumor. The preparation of such structures as well as their remote-control can be regulated using magnetic fields and therefore can find application in an array of domains.
The magnetic properties of a material control how this material responds to the presence of a magnetic field. Iron oxide is the main component of rust but also...
Due to the special arrangement of its molecules, a new coating made of corn starch is able to repair small scratches by itself through heat: The cross-linking via ring-shaped molecules makes the material mobile, so that it compensates for the scratches and these disappear again.
Superficial micro-scratches on the car body or on other high-gloss surfaces are harmless, but annoying. Especially in the luxury segment such surfaces are...
The Potsdam Echelle Polarimetric and Spectroscopic Instrument (PEPSI) at the Large Binocular Telescope (LBT) in Arizona released its first image of the surface magnetic field of another star. In a paper in the European journal Astronomy & Astrophysics, the PEPSI team presents a Zeeman- Doppler-Image of the surface of the magnetically active star II Pegasi.
A special technique allows astronomers to resolve the surfaces of faraway stars. Those are otherwise only seen as point sources, even in the largest telescopes...
Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology and the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, have proposed a way to create a completely new source of radiation. Ultra-intense light pulses consist of the motion of a single wave and can be described as a tsunami of light. The strong wave can be used to study interactions between matter and light in a unique way. Their research is now published in the scientific journal Physical Review Letters.
"This source of radiation lets us look at reality through a new angle - it is like twisting a mirror and discovering something completely different," says...
11.03.2019 | Event News
01.03.2019 | Event News
28.02.2019 | Event News
25.03.2019 | Trade Fair News
25.03.2019 | Life Sciences
25.03.2019 | Information Technology