Friday, March 26, 2010

Maternal Depression

Being a parent isn't easy, but for parents who face economic, social, cultural and personal hardships, it's an even more daunting task. That's why programs like HIPPY, that provide in-home support and information from a caring, trained peer can have such a positive effect on families. In Mental Health Needs of At-Risk Families, a report by Dr. Angela Nievar of UNT, she found a positive significant difference between HIPPY parents and non-HIPPY parents in the HOME (Bradley & Caldwell, 2000) score, which includes observations of parenting and survey questions.  The HOME measures actual parenting, including appropriate responsiveness of parents, responsibility parents take for their children, and the type of environment that parents provide for their children. Parents who did not participate in the HIPPY program reported significantly more attachment-related stress on the Attachment subscale of the Parenting Stress Index (Abidin, 1994) than HIPPY parents.    Results of the parent interview are reported below by group.  Higher percentages of HIPPY parents:

1.       Thought that parents should quickly develop close, warm feelings for their child.
2.       Reported having close, warm feelings for their child.
3.       Did not describe their child as “mean.”
4.       Felt more comfortable holding and taking care of children.
5.       Said that their child knows them and wants them.

I was reminded of this recently when I read about a February 15th study published online in Pediatrics, which found that post-partum depression occurs at an elevated rate among low income women. Linda H. Chaudron, M.D., and colleagues studied 198 low-income mothers and found that 56% met criteria for minor or major depression, compared with a rate of 14% in the general population. Three routinely used depression screening tools proved to be effective in identifying post-partum depression in this low-income group, but the authors caution that scores two or three points below the traditional cut-off may require further evaluation in low-income moms. (Mental Health Weekly DOI:10.1002/mhw)  

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