News release 10.2021

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: OCTOBER 13, 2021

Contact: Shari Ireton

206.351.6058 (cell)

slireton@uw.edu

Home Visiting Program Benefits New Mother

Seattle— Mothers considered at risk of postnatal depression were found to benefit from a parent-child home visiting program, a recent study from the University of Washington School of Nursing found.

The study, published in Developmental Psychology, showed that women who experienced mood disorders after the birth of a child needed caregiving support themselves to ensure the baby was not adversely affected by their own mental health needs.  According to researchers, mood disorder treatment alone does not guarantee that the mother-child relationship won’t be impacted by the mother’s symptoms.

Led by Dr. Susan Spieker at the UW School of Nursing, the study found that a brief, 10-week home visiting program delivered soon after the infant’s birth improved the mother’s sensitive and responsive care and understanding of child social and emotional development. The home visiting program (disseminated by the Parent-Child Relationship Programs at the UW School of Nursing’s Barnard Center for Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health), also showed that these children were less likely to have behavioral problems by the time the infant reached one year of age. Improvements in maternal sensitive and responsive care and understanding of social and emotional development also continued at infant’s one year of age.

“Although the program was not primarily designed to improve mothers’ mental health, a byproduct of the study was that the mothers in the home visiting program reported a trending reduction in depression and anxiety symptoms,” said Dr. Spieker.

Eligible participants in the study received prenatal care and mental health referrals at a federally qualified health center.  The study team enrolled 254 Spanish- and English-speaking mothers when their infants were eight-12 weeks of age.

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