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Insecure attachment style relates to major depression in women, but its relationship to depression associated with childbirth is largely unknown. A new UK-designed measure, the Attachment Style Interview (ASI), has potential for cross-cultural use as a risk marker for maternal disorder.
To establish the reliability of the ASI across centres, its stability over a 9-month period, and its associations with social context and majoror minor depression.
The ASI was used by nine centres antenatally on 204 women, with 174 followed up 6 months postnatally. Interrater reliability was tested and the ASI was repeated on a subset of 96 women. Affective disorder was assessed by means of the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM–IV.
Satisfactory interrater reliability was achieved with relatively high stability rates at follow-up. Insecure attachment related to lower social class position and more negative social context. Specific associations of avoidant attachment style (angry–dismissive or withdrawn) with antenatal disorder, and anxious style (enmeshed or fearful) with postnatal disorder were found.
The ASI can be used reliably in European and US centres as a measure for risk associated with childbirth. Its use will contribute to theoretically underpinned preventive action for disorders associated with childbirth.
Postnatal depression seems to be a universal condition with similar rates in different countries. However, anthropologists question the cross-cultural equivalence of depression, particularly at a life stage so influenced by cultural factors.
To develop a qualitative method to explore whether postnatal depression is universally recognised, attributed and described and to enquire into people's perceptions of remedies and services for morbid states of unhappiness within the context of local services.
The study took place in 15 centres in 11 countries and drew on three groups of informants: focus groups with new mothers, interview swith fathers and grandmothers, and interviews with health professionals. Textual analysis of these three groups was conducted separately in each centre and emergent themes compared across centres.
All centres described morbid unhappiness after childbirth comparable to postnatal depression but not all saw this as an illness remediable by health interventions.
Although the findings of this study support the universality of a morbid state of unhappiness following childbirth, they also support concerns about the cross-cultural equivalence of postnatal depression as an illness requiring the intervention of health professionals; this has implications for future research.
Infant development is adversely affected in the context of postnatal depression. This relationship may be mediated by both the nature of early mother-infant interactions and the quality of the home environment.
To establish the usefulness of the Global Ratings Scales of Mother–Infant Interaction and the Infant–Toddler version of the Home Observation for the Measurement of the Environment (IT–HOME), and to test expected associations of the measures with characteristics of the social context and with major or minor depression.
Both assessments were administered postnatally in four European centres; 144 mothers were assessed with the Global Ratings Scales and 114 with the IT–HOME. Affective disorder was assessed by means of the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM–IV Disorders.
Analyses of mother–infant interaction indicated no main effect for depression but maternal sensitivity to infant behaviour was associated with better infant communication, especially for women who were not depressed. Poor overall emotional support also reduced sensitivity scores. Poor support was also related to poorer IT–HOME scores, but there was no effect of depression.
The Global Ratings Scales were effectively applied but there was less evidence of the usefulness of the IT–HOME.
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