Mother-child bonding at 1 year: associations with symptoms of postnatal depression and bonding in the first few weeks

Madeleine O'Higgins, Ian St James Roberts, Vivette Glover, Alyx Taylor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

133 Citations (Scopus)


Some mothers experience neutral or negative feelings toward their new infant. This study examined the association between symptoms of postnatal depression and mother–infant bonding and the persistence of these feelings over the first year. Bonding was assessed using the Mother–Infant Bonding Scale (MIBQ), at four times postnatal, “early weeks” (1–4 weeks), 9 weeks, 16 weeks and 1 year, in 50 depressed, Edinburgh Postnatal Depression scale (EPDS) ≥13 at 4 weeks post natal, and 29 non-depressed mothers. A significant association between the EPDS score at 4 weeks and bonding score at 1–4 weeks, 9 weeks, and at 1 year postnatal, χ 2(1) = 9.85, p < 0.01, 5.44, p < 0.05 and 5.21, p < 0.05, respectively, was found, with a trend at 16 weeks. There was a strong association between bonding in the early weeks and all later time points χ 2(1) = 17.26, p < 0.001, 7.89, p < 0.01 and 13.69, p < 0.001, respectively. Regression showed early bonding rather than early depression was the major predictor of bonding at 1 year. Women who are depressed postnatally can fail to bond well with their baby and this can persist for a year. Early identification and intervention for poor bonding is indicated.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)381-389
Number of pages9
JournalArchives of Women's Mental Health
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2013


  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Depression
  • Depression, Postpartum
  • Emotions
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Mother-Child Relations
  • Mothers
  • Object Attachment
  • Postpartum Period
  • Prospective Studies
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Questionnaires
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Time Factors


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