Background. Psychiatric mother and baby units are increasingly asked to assess parenting in people
with severe mental illness, particularly schizophrenia, but little research evidence exists on which to
Method. Mother–infant interaction was assessed in 26 women who had recovered from the acute
phase of severe post-partum mental disorder, a validated rating scale based on direct observation
Results. Women with schizophrenia showed greater interaction deficits than those with affective
disorders, being more remote, insensitive, intrusive and self-absorbed. The 4-month-old infants of
women with schizophrenia were more avoidant, and the overall quality of mother–infant
interaction in schizophrenia was poorer.
Conclusion. The long-term significance of these preliminary findings is not known but they raise
concerns about the parenting capacity of women with schizophrenia and suggest the need for an
intervention to improve parenting skills in this group.