Reducing Maternal Depression and Promoting Infant Social-Emotional Health and Development
Grant #: NIH/NICHD 1R01 HD086894-01-A1; 9/01/2016 – 8/31/2021
Contact Information: Principal Investigator- Kathleen M. Baggett, Ph.D. firstname.lastname@example.org
For infants facing early adversity, intervening early and targeting specific nurturing parent behaviors has proven to be effective in promoting healthy infant social-emotional trajectories. Sadly, maternal depression skyrockets during early infancy, especially for low-income women [1-3] and interferes with maternal engagement in interventions shown to be effective generally in improving infant social-emotional outcomes [7,8,16]. Maternal depression in the first year postpartum constitutes an enormous and costly public health concern with extensive and well documented detrimental effects on infant parenting and infant life course trajectories [4-6]. Maternal depression treatments operate in silos, separate from infant parent interventions that target specific parent behaviors shown to promote infant competencies. There is an absence of integrated interventions with demonstrated effectiveness in reducing both maternal depression and promoting infant parenting behavior that builds infant social-emotional competencies [8-11]. To address the life course needs of depressed mothers and their infants, we need brief, accessible, and integrated interventions that target both maternal depression and specific nurturing parent behaviors shown to improve infant social-emotional trajectories. In our prior programmatic research, we have developed two separate web-based, remote coaching interventions for: (a) parent nurturing behaviors that improve infant outcomes (Baby-Net R34; R01) , and (b) maternal depression (Mom-Net R34; R01) . Compared to controls, the Baby-Net program demonstrated medium to large effects on observed nurturing parent behavior and on infant social-emotional competencies in the context of play  and in the context of book activities . Mom-Net demonstrated low attrition and high levels of feasibility, program use, and satisfaction . Compared to controls, Mom-Net participants demonstrated significant reductions in depression and improved preschool parenting behavior . A substantial advantage of the web-based, remote coaching approach is that it overcomes multiple logistical barriers that often prevent low-income mothers from participating in community/home-visiting treatment programs . While Mom-Net exists for depressed mothers of preschoolers, it is not designed for infant parenting. Moreover, in Baby-Net studies, we found that maternal depression significantly impeded program progress and positive intervention effects. Thus, our prior research on web-based maternal depression and specific nurturing parenting behavior in infancy provides a strong empirical basis to integrate salient Mom-Net depression content into the Baby-Net program to target depression and specific infant parenting behaviors that promote infant social-emotional competencies and trajectories. We will rigorously test the merged Mom & Baby Net intervention with 180 low-income mothers with depression and their infants via a 2-arm, intent-to-treat, randomized controlled trial.